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No holiday for COVID contact tracers in Pima County

Posted at 10:46 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 00:46:24-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — "It's heavy, it's a heavy workload right now," Brian Eller, of the Pima County Health Department, said.

Others might be off but the work doesn't stop at PCHD.

COVID IN DECEMBER

"We've seen a huge spike in cases for December," Eller said.

Because of that spike, staff is continuing their work on Christmas Day.

"Contact tracing and case investigation efforts over the holiday break," Eller said.

CONTACT TRACERS

He said a team of operators will be making some difficult phone calls confirming positive cases of COVID-19, and instructing people to quarantine.

"They're going to be there all-day during Christmas Day making those calls to some of those individuals."

NO DAYS OFF

He said more than 2,700 tests were conducted in the county on Monday and that doesn't count tests taken at pharmacies.

"With our positivity rates right now, that could potentially be 100, 200, 300 people that are positive, that don't know it, that are going back out in our community to further spread."

CALLING ANYONE EXPOSED TO COVID

It's not only positive tests that staff will be calling about.

Eller said they'll be calling anyone with whom the positive person says they've been in contact.

"If you've been in close contact to someone who's a positive identified case, the quicker we can get that individual into quarantine, the less likely that they're able to re-transmit to someone else in the community."

WHAT TO EXPECT ON PHONE CALLS

You should see any of the following if you get a call from the county:

- A phone number that begins with a '520' area code and the first three numbers '724.'

- Possibly a text message from that number before a phone call.

- They'll only ask you to confirm your date of birth.

"They're not going to ask any questions about your social security number, about a credit card," Eller said.

They urge people to pick up the phone if they see a contact tracing number to help curb the spread in our community.