County health departments stay busy tracing contacts from COVID-19 patients

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. — Contact tracing from positive COVID-19 cases keeps Indiana’s local health departments busy. Contact tracing happens after the Indiana State Department of Health alerts the county health agency of a Coronavirus case in their area.

From there, the county health department handles interviewing the patient about where the person traveled and who he/she had contact with. With permission from the patient, the health department alerts anyone who is close contact about the case and gives them instructions on self-isolating and other precautions.

“If they would deny us any information, there really wouldn’t be anything that we could do to follow up or to follow kind of along their process of exposure to other people,” Betsy Swearingen explained.

Swearingen is the director of the Johnson County Health Department. She said she spoke with ISDH leaders last week.

“I told them even though we’ve had a fairly high number of cases, my staff has dedicated their time to make sure we reach out to every person that has tested positive for COVID,” Swearingen said.

Meanwhile the state is working to provide additional resources related to contact tracing to county health departments. They did not specify details on those plans.

“We found contact tracing to be very successful for us,” Swearingen said. “It’s been a very good experience with tracking the virus and hopefully helping to contain it just a little bit.”

Swearingen said the health department has done contact tracing in the past regarding Hepatitis A.

“It was a public health threat,” Swearingen explained. “So right now, we would only do contact traces on what is considered to be a public health threat.”

This is a quickly evolving topic as it relates to COVID-19. FOX59 will continue following the developments. You can learn more about contact tracing on the Centers for Disease Control’s website, www.cdc.gov.

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