Boone County falls behind contact tracing

2 weeks 8 hours 18 minutes ago Tuesday, September 08 2020 Sep 8, 2020 Tuesday, September 08, 2020 6:34:00 PM CDT September 08, 2020 in News
By: Zoie Henry, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Boone County is experiencing delays in contact tracing of five or more days, while counties like Saline and Macon have a turnaround time between twelve and twenty-four hours. 

As of Monday, Sept. 7, Boone County reported 1,529 new cases in the last 14 days, which is a 76.6 percent rate of increase in total cases. Boone County is now up to 3,524 cases reported.

In response to a tweet concerning MU’s contact tracing efforts, MU student, Danielle DuClos said, “Unfortunately, I tested COVID positive LAST Sunday… I've isolated since I was tested and told my close contacts to quarantine/get tested… It’s almost Sunday again and I haven’t heard from a contact tracer… This 'aggressive' contact tracing isn’t working…” 

DuClos later followed up with a screenshot of a response from the Student Affairs Care Team which said, “Danielle, thanks for reaching out. The case investigators are about five days behind, according to the most recent information I’ve received…”

Other students expressed the same frustrations with even longer wait times for contact tracers to reach out following a positive COVID-19 test.

There are high hopes for more to be hired with Boone County’s CARES Act funds that were just approved. Contrary to Boone County’s approach to contact tracing, other counties have quicker turnaround times but also less cases.

Mike Chambers, Administrator for the Macon County Health Department said the county has COVID-19 cases happening partly due to people who work outside the county.

"They’re picking it up in businesses they're working in and bringing it back. Actually passing it on to close household contacts. We also see a trend, too, that small social gatherings is where we’re starting to see COVID-19 getting passed on to different people," Chambers said. "Haven't seen any in businesses. Schools are just now picking up, so yes we are starting to see it in schools. But in mass gatherings, like we’ve had through the summer like fairs and things like that it hasn’t happened there either. So, in Macon County, it’s a little bit different dynamic than what’s going on in Boone."

Chambers said it will be interesting to see what the fall brings, as schools are opened and flu season on its way.

Tara Brewer, Administrator for the Saline County Health Department, said the hardest thing the county is currently seeing is that different entities are doing the testing. 

"It’s a little bit of delayed information initially from these entities. If it’s from our local hospital or any local physicians, it goes pretty well. Once people start doing their own testing and sending them off to a different lab and waiting there could be a delay there. But, I would say, for the most part, I think, once we receive the positive, we’re contacting them probably within twelve hours at the latest.”

For more information on changes in COVID-19 in Boone, Saline and Macon counties visit the respective county website.

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