Dane County public health leaving contact tracing up to residents

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -As covid cases surge across Wisconsin, Dane County contact tracers say they can’t keep up.

In crisis mode, public health officials are leaving contact tracing up to residents.

“Right out of the gate every morning, folks are assigned cases,” Karri Bartlett, Dane County Public Health Supervisor, COVID-19 Operations Chief said.

Contact tracing is a bit of detective work.

“It’s a lot of phone time and sitting in front of a computer and documenting,” she said.

Contact tracers are in a race against the clock to reach those who may have been exposed to covid-19, within 24 hours of a positive test.

“Folks are putting in a lot of overtime and long hours to do this work,” she said.

Bartlett oversees the team of 180 Dane County contact tracers.

“Helping people talk through all of that can be very emotionally heavy for folks,” she said.

Tracers work seven days a week, but Bartlett said as covid cases climb, it’s not enough.

“It’s just sheer volume, there’s only so many hours in the day,” she said.

Now, they’re in crisis mode. Bartlett said they’re leaving contact tracing up to residents because the team can’t guarantee a call in a timely manner.

“The timely response is so important and that’s where were falling back a little bit,” she said.

Bartlett said they can’t do the job on their own.

“Please be understanding and patient and work with us. We’re trying to support you and get a better handle on Covid in our communities,” she said.

Bartlett said the team of contact tracers will grow to 200 by the end of October.

Copyright 2020 WMTV. All rights reserved.

Source: www.nbc15.com

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