State health department to expand contact tracing, officials call it ‘crucial step’

Updated: May. 4, 2020 at 4:32 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - To ease restrictions and prepare to fully open the state, health officials say there needs to be more testing and contact tracing.

"It's really one of the crucial steps that we have to have in place to really open safely," said Joseph Kanter M.D., with Louisiana Health Department.

Kanter says when someone tests positive for COVID-19, doctors interview them to trace back anyone they’ve come in recent contact with, “finding out where the individual was, who they interacted with, and letting those contacts know so they can self-quarantine,” said Kanter. “So that, one case limits to just one cases instead becoming 12 or 13 other cases."

He says the health department does other contact tracing for other viruses but they’re focusing on COVID-19 and looking to hire between 300 and 700 people.

"This is a massive scaling up and there will be some contracting of local agencies to assist with that," said Kanter.

To clamp down on potential outbreaks or clusters, Kanter says, they are looking to contract workers.

“People who might have epidemiological expertise or might have experience with a call center and interviewing people," says Kanter.

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