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Decrease in COVID-19 cases opens the door for contact tracers to get a hold on virus

Doctor in protective workwear taking nose culture swab from patient
Posted at 5:04 PM, Sep 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-14 01:14:21-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Pima County Health Department say now is the time to really focus on contact tracing with the number of cases dropping.

“Contact tracing is our main response that we have that can really when we identify a case because it has positive, we elicit their contacts and reach out to them, we ask them to quarantine and get tested again and we can kind of box it and is the way I like to look at it, that's what's really going to help us keep this, the spread of this thing down,” explained Matthew Christenberry.

RELATED: Contact tracers and case investigators handle COVID-19 cases in Pima County

That's because unlike viruses such as the flu, there is not a vaccine for COVID-19, yet.

Christenberry with the Pima County Health Department said so far contact tracers have seen about 40 percent success with cases and slightly less for their contacts.

He said their biggest issue is people picking up the phone.

“The number will show up as area code (833) 771 and then the last four digits could be a couple of different things so it'd be important to note those, but also we have some other staff at the health department that can call from area code 520-724, and then x x x x,” he explained.

The county has requested a caller ID in hopes of reaching more people.

At the viruses peak in June, there were nearly 2,400 people infected at once in Pima County.

On a few days throughout June — the county saw as many as 400 cases per day.

This past week the county had just 149 cases.

“We've been now and even over the last few weeks we've had the capacity to call all of our cases, we have them, at least, the number of people available to call our cases and the contacts. We definitely have that capacity," said Christenberry.

It’s important to remind the public that the contact tracers are protecting the public's privacy and will not tell contacts if you were the person who exposed them to the virus.