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Contact tracers: Letting people know they may have been in contact with COVID-19

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — When someone knows another who tested positive for COVID-19, they are likely to be contacted by one of the county’s contact tracers.

With the small spike in COVID-19 cases in Greene County, the contact tracers with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department have been busy making phone calls.

“The first thing that we do is have our epidemiologists reach out to that individual and they conduct an interview,” said Jon Mooney, the assistant director of health at the health department. “So, it’s a standard interview process that walks through basically everything from symptoms to where they’ve been and what their steps should be going forward.”

Mooney says contact tracing is important in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“So what they do, is they reach out to these contacts of someone that has the disease,” said Mooney. “So, they reach out to them and they, again, walk through what this means. Things like quarantine and if they absolutely have to go out, then they need to be masking and then also to coordinate testing. We are in daily contact with them to monitor them for symptoms so that they’ve got a dialogue back and forth with one of our own employees.”

Though there are some private contact tracers, the county uses about 30 of its own trained employees for tracing.

“We look for those communications skills along with a lot of public health background that everyone here has,” said Mooney.

If you have been exposed, Mooney says it helps the contact tracers if you have a pretty good record of when and where you have been within the community.

“Understanding where you’ve been, I think, is always a good idea,” said Mooney. “But the more that we’re conscious about how we move through the community and make sure that we do it in a safe way. I think the more that we can accurately be able to recall where we’ve been, especially when we do more high-risk activities… The more that we stay at home, the better off than we are.”

There are currently 57 active cases of COVID-19 in Greene County, with over 150 cases total. The county has also completed over 10,000 tests.

To learn the latest CDC guidelines to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, click here.

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