FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – COVID-19 remains a concern and health officials say it is not always easy to track down those who are spreading the virus.
“One of the main difficulties is actually speaking to people on the phone,” said Connie Melton, Director of Center for Health Protection with the Arkansas Department of Health. “We’re all busy and we don’t answer all of our phone calls so sometimes the biggest hurdle is just getting a phone call and getting that conversation.”
Melton said the key to contact tracing success is those getting the calls actually picking up the phone. The calls emphasize the importance of quarantining and how it protects those people live with and interact with on a routine basis.
According to Arkansas Department of Health guidance, if you test positive for COVID-19-vaccinated or not- you must quarantine. Quarantining if you are exposed to the virus depends on your vaccination status and if you have symptoms.
“It’s a trust thing,” Melton said. “We trust everyone to make the right decision, to do the right thing, to respect and take care of their loved ones by quarantining.”
State epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Dillaha said the continuing spread lies not only in the hands of those needing to follow ADH guidance but also those unvaccinated.
“When we compare the number of people who’ve had COVID-19 and didn’t get vaccinated to those who’ve had COVID-19 and did get vaccinated, the people who didn’t get vaccinated are about twice as likely to get re-infected as the people who did get vaccinated,” Dr. Dillaha said.
Melton said once someone tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracers usually only have a six day window to get in touch with the person’s close contacts before the quarantine period runs out, so, it is crucial if you test positive for COVID-19 that you comply with contact tracers right away.