SC iden­ti­fies 1,800 con­tact trac­ers to help fight COVID-19

The State - - Local - BY MAAYAN SCHECHTER mschechter@thes­ Maayan Schechter: 803-771-8657, @MaayanSche­chter

South Carolina’s pub­lic health agency an­nounced hav­ing met a ma­jor goal in its fight against the coro­n­avirus: iden­ti­fy­ing more than 1,800 con­tact trac­ers who will help the state curb the COVID-19 out­break.

In a news re­lease, the state’s De­part­ment of Health and En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­trol re­ported it had in­creased its num­ber of con­tact trac­ers from 20 to 400 staff mem­bers as of Mon­day. Ad­di­tion­ally, the state agency said it has now an­other 1,400 con­tact trac­ers through con­tracts with two pri­vate staffing com­pa­nies: Ap­ple One and C-Trace.

The agency said, ad­di­tion­ally, 667 peo­ple have sub­mit­ted a on­line form say­ing they too would be in­ter­ested in be­com­ing a con­tact tracer.

The news came on the same day that health of­fi­cials an­nounced a to­tal of 7,792 pos­i­tive cases and 346 deaths so far.

South Carolina’s health de­part­ment has done con­tact trac­ing be­fore and typ­i­cally has on staff 20 con­tact trac­ers to help fight dis­eases viruses such as tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and hep­ati­tis.

“With in­creased test­ing there will be an in­crease in the num­ber of pos­i­tive cases re­ported,” state epi­demi­ol­o­gist Linda Bell said in a state­ment. “This means we will need to in­crease the ex­tent of its con­tact trac­ing, and we are pre­pared to do so.”

South Carolini­ans who have tested pos­i­tive for COVID-19 or have been ex­posed to some­one who has tested pos­i­tive should ex­pect a con­tact tracer to reach out to them, said Bell, who called it a con­fi­den­tial pro­cess.

“That’s how we con­tain it,” Gov. Henry McMaster said of the ramp­ing up of con­tact trac­ing ef­forts. “We know the virus now. We know how it works.”

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