FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Nearly a month, that’s how long one man says he waited for contact tracers to reach out to him after his son tested positive for COVID-19.
At the beginning of September, KNWA/FOX 24 introduced you to Michael Cummings.
“We quarantined our family for the 14-day period to avoid spreading it and luckily none of us got sick,” Cummings said.
While Jude has recovered from the coronavirus, the Cummings family experienced what they call a problem with the state’s contact tracing response.
“They didn’t even realize the date of diagnosis,” he said. “They just knew it was a recent case in Arkansas.”
Cummings said the family didn’t hear from the Arkansas Department of Health until after Jude’s quarantine period ended.
They called and they said all the right things, but it was three and a half weeks too late.MICHAEL CUMMINGS, SON TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
“We got three to four calls last week asking us how we were feeling, reminding us not to go to the grocery store for the next 10 days,” he said.
Arkansas Department of Health Acting Chief Medical Officer “Dr. Bala” said with the uptick in daily coronavirus cases, tracking potential positive cases has been a challenge.
“This is not the time to give up in the middle of a pandemic,” Dr. Bala said. “We need to press on.”
Dr. Bala acknowledged there’s sometimes a lag in follow up, but said the ADH is doing much better than it previously had been.
You’re right, the truth is, we cannot sugarcoat it delays are always not good.DR. APPATHURAI BALAMURUGAN, ACTING CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, ADH
“I think that there are lessons learned from these missed opportunities,” he said. “We are very cognizant about improving our process.”
Cummings said he wants Arkansans to take away this message from his experience — “Don’t wait for a phone call from the state.“
I’m sure they are doing what they can, but we as citizens, we can’t rely on them.MICHAEL CUMMINGS, SON TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
The state currently has 787 contact tracers.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, as of now there’s no plans to hire more.
“There was a point in the past where we were struggling to get more, but I think we have enough contract tracers now,” Dr. Bala said.
Dr. Bala wants to remind people to answer the phone when the ADH calls.
“It is a challenge as you can imagine,” he said.