Tracing Coronavirus: health officials investigate contacts for exposure

GRANTS PASS, Ore.– With cases on the rise in Josephine County, public health officials are working as fast as they can to identify people who may have been exposed.

The process is delicate as it requires protecting the identity of those who have been infected while also trying to find everyone they were in contact with. As of Thursday morning, two more cases of coronavirus were confirmed bringing the total in the county to 4.

“So at this point, we know some of our cases are community spread,” said Mike Weber, public health director for Josephine County.

Weber says he expects the numbers will continue to go up as the county tests more and more people. So far 108 tests have been completed in county. But while more people are getting tested and cases rise, they’re not changing the process that much.

“To be honest it’s not going to change our operations a whole lot,” said Weber. “Up until now, we’ve been operating under the assumption that it is in our community and we’ve been saying that for several weeks.”

One part of the process poses some difficulty, however – identifying all of the people who may have been exposed by these new cases.

“It’s not something that goes super quick,” said Weber. “It takes time to reach out to them and go through all the questions that get asked and to reach out to all the people who may have been exposed from those individuals.”

According to the CDC, one person on average may have up to 10 to 15 contacts. Of those, approximately two to three will start to show symptoms. Josephine County health officials say it’s a delicate balance of protecting the identity of those infected while making sure certain people know they might have been exposed.

“When information comes out as to where an individual works, immediately we start hearing about people both inside and outside of that organization asking well whos out sick right now, who was sick yesterday,” said Weber.

The county is preparing for more cases to appear as more tests are completed. But as cases rise, the county says isolation is key in protecting yourself and others.

Josephine County public health is encouraging everyone to continue the best health practices like washing hands. But on a broader scale, watching over others in the community if you can and helping those in need.

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