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Pima County Health Department partners with company to increase contact tracing efforts

Posted at 8:39 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 09:58:46-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - The Pima County Health Department is partnering with Maximus Health Services to expand contact tracing throughout the county.

Currently the department has five contact tracers, according to Dr. Theresa Cullen, the director of the Pima County Health Department.

“We have very few contact tracers, very few people doing the job," said Dr. Cullen.

Dr. Cullen said when someone tests positive for COVID-19, they should be contacted by a case investigator.

A case investigators job is to ask a positive COVID-19 patient how sick they are and who they've been in contact with.

“We go in and ask you all these specific questions about how ill you are and what you can do, you tell us who your contacts are," she said.

After that, a contact tracers begins calling all of those who a positive COVID-19 patient has had contact with.

“We interview the contacts and we follow them too," said Dr. Cullen.

She added that currently, there are only about 20 case investigators and contact tracers working under the Pima County Health Department.

Because of the high volume of positive COVID-19 cases across the county, and the low number of case investigators and contact tracers have had an impact in how long it takes for a positive COVID-19 patient and their contacts to be reached out to.

“Right now the delay can be up to three days," said Dr. Cullen.

Dr. Cullen added the goal is to contact positive COVID-19 patients within at most, 48 hours of getting their result.

Dr. Cullen said the county health department's partnership with Maximus Health Services will bring about 150 contact tracers on board.