ADH requests $22 million for contact tracing

KNWA

"The staff that will be needed to investigate each case and follow up with contacts is going to be stretched thin," Dr. Dillaha said.

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Department of Health is requesting $22 million specifically for contact tracing.

Positive cases drastically increased on Thursday, May 21, around the Natural State.

Today we have an additional 455 cases in the state of Arkansas.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON, (R) ARKANSAS

Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said almost half of those cases are in the federal prison in Forrest City.

“Of those 224 community cases from yesterday, we have successfully contacted already 137 of them,” Dr. Smith said.

In the Arkansas Department of Health’s funding request to the Cares Act Committee, it states the need for 85 full-time volunteers to trace the footsteps up to 100 new patients per day.

Overall we think we need probably about 350 contact tracers, and this includes staff that also do the initial investigation.

DR. JENNIFER DILLAHA, ADH MEDICAL DIRECTOR FOR IMMUNIZATIONS / OUTBREAK RESPONSE

Arkansas Department of Health Immunizations and Outbreak Response Medical Director Dr. Jennifer Dillaha said right now they only have about 230 contact tracers.

“The staff that will be needed to investigate each case and follow up with contacts is going to be stretched thin,” she said. “We know over time we have got to increase our capacity to do that.”

Dr. Dillaha said she is confident the health department will continue to work hard on expanding its capacity and slowing the spread.

“We’re not able to move as fast as we would like to, but we are definitely making good progress,” she said.

The Cares Act funding will also help by providing more resources and hiring more staff.

“In the very near future, we will be able to make some very positive changes to increase our capacity,” Dr. Dillaha said.

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