Contact tracing ramps up as Kentucky sees surge in cases

Posted at 6:30 PM, Jul 24, 2020

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. (LEX 18) — The workload for contact tracers in some local health departments has significantly increased after a surge in COVID-19 cases in Kentucky.

Contact tracers are those who are responsible for calling people who have been exposed to COVID-19 and asking them to quarantine.

In Anderson County, the surge has had a dramatic impact. In the first several months, it had about 30 cases. In the past 12 days alone, that number has nearly doubled to 58 cases.

"We pretty much had to call all hands on deck," Anderson County Health Department Contact Tracing Supervisor Renee Durr RN. said.

To keep up with the demand, the two nurses who head up the operation, Durr and Amanda Blair, RN., said they work long hours, including weekends.

"It's tough being away from home," Blair said. "I have an 11-year-old son. I'm supposed to be a mom first and a wife so that part's been tough, but it's nice to have a good team here to come and work with because that makes it all better."

For all of the people they contact, they ask for patience.

"We are here for them," Durr said. "If they'll just work with us, it makes everything easier for them and for us. We're not trying to judge anybody. We ask a lot of questions, but we're just trying to help them through it, be a resource to them, and guide them."

In addition to asking people to quarantine, tracers like Durr and Blair also monitor each contact and positive case daily for symptoms. The Health Department also runs errands for items like groceries or medications for those who are quarantined and need assistance.

LEX 18 also spoke with the Woodford County Health Department and the Madison County Health Department, which are both among several other departments managing significant increases in cases amidst this surge.

"We have a very dedicated team of nurses and local and regional contact tracers who work long hours, nights, and weekends, to help ensure the safety of our community," Madison County Health Department Clinic Nurse Administrator Anne Hatton, RN. said.