By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Deschutes County will hire hire four full-time contact tracers to track and contain the spread of COVID 19 locally.
That still doesn’t give the county enough tracers to satisfy the governor’s requirement for a phone one reopening.
Deschutes County currently has six contact tracers…but the state recommends 30 for the county’s nearly 200,000 residents.
Hiring four temporary contract tracers will help Deschutes County meet state a requirement to reach 95% of people who come in contact with confirmed cases of coronavirus within 24 hours.
“We are interviewing each case to see how they may have been exposed, also who they have been around during their contagious period,” said Jill Johnson, Communicable Disease Supervisor Deschutes County Health Dept.
Contact tracing consists of following up with people who’ve spent 15 minutes within 6 feet of someone who’s tested positive.
“We follow up with them. Provide some education. Find out if they are symptomatic. Ask them to monitor for symptoms twice daily and then we check in with them daily for 14 days after they were exposed,” Johnson said.
Although the county doesn’t currently meet the phase one threshold, Johnson says there are allowances for agencies that can prove they can ramp up tracing as necessary.
“We are also looking at partnering with local health care organizations to get some support. We are also thinking about using volunteers.”
Deschutes County Commissioners unanimously approved the request to hire more tracers. A portion of their salaries will be covered by state and federal grants.