Contact Tracers are ready for a surge of COVID-19, according to Jackson County Public Health

MEDFORD, Ore. — Public health officials around southern Oregon are seeing an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in the area.

With the overall number of cases spiking in Oregon, a lot of the work falls to contact tracers to make sure they’re quickly working to find anyone who could’ve been affected.

“If we had a major outbreak now we could pull in people from other parts of the department they’ve already been through the training and we could recruit them,” Jackson County Public Health Officer, Dr. Jim Shames said.

Over the past few months, roles in public health have been emphasized none so much as a contact tracer. Contact tracing is a vital part of trying to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Tracers within public health work to quickly find links between confirmed cases, and people they may have been in contact with.

“It’s a very important strategy now that we’ve opened up and everyone isn’t staying at home, it’s a very important strategy to identify the people who have the disease and identify the people that they’ve touched in that period of time,” Shames said.

In a recent OHA report, Jackson County Public Health reported it has 39 trained and on-call contact tracers with four trained and on-call case investigators.

“We got all of those people at least minimum training in the event that there was a significant outbreak,” Jackson County Public Health Division Manager, Jackson Baures said. “With COVID, you never know what’s going to happen on any given day so we wanted to make sure we could train the employees we currently have to do contact tracing.”

Public health emphasizes the importance of these contact tracers and the work they do, and it asks that the public cooperate because they say this work is to keep people safe.

“We’re really trying to do work to protect the health of that person, the health of their family and their friends,” Baures said. “So, please understand and be cooperate and be honest with us.”

Jackson County Public Health continues to encourage the use of face coverings and good hygiene to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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