NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — Tracing and monitoring every single person infected with the coronavirus is essential in slowing down its spread.
At the beginning of the COVID -19 crisis, the contact tracing team for the Arkansas Department of Health was about 5 people. It has grown to about 150 medical staff members with the sole purpose of stopping the virus from spreading even more.
Dr. Joel Tumlinson said when you have community spread of a virus like we have here in the state the question isn’t so much where did the person get the virus but who has the person been in contact with. The contact tracing team is made up of nurses, intervention specialists and epidemiologists.
Once someone is infected the team works with them to identify when they started feeling symptoms and who they have been in close contact with.
They then reach out to all of those people.
“Heres what we need you to do is stay home and not go out and be with other people because you might be in this incubation period. You have been exposed to the virus, we don’t know if you are going to get sick or not but we need this 14 day period to make sure you don’t develop symptoms,” said Tumlinson.
The organization also went live with a system called SARA alert to better monitor and track people. Tracers keep in touch with them and if they develop symptoms within those days in quarantine they will be told to get tested. The ADH is also working with the college of public health at UAMS to start having students and faculty add to these efforts.