Okla. health dept. expands contract tracing efforts

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/15/2020 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma State Department of Health officials said on Aug. 7 that they are expanding ongoing contact tracing efforts in Oklahoma with the launch of a COVID-19 contact tracing and case investigation call center.

Contact tracing is to assess the known active COVID-19 cases and quickly get in touch with exposed individuals to ask that they quarantine and to schedule them to be tested.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not showing signs of slowing down, and the vaccine is still in a testing phase. Contact tracing is a proven way to mitigate the spread of a contagious disease and help get it under control,” said Interim Health Commissioner Lance Frye. “The successful launch of this call center is a major win in Oklahoma’s battle against this novel coronavirus. The work done here is mission critical for the long-term health and safety of all Oklahomans.”

The call center has been operational since June 8 with more than 400 staff professionally trained in contact tracing and case investigation working active COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma, a cost covered by federal aid through the CARES Act.

Call center staff are responsible for the investigation of COVID-19 with responsibilities that consist of direct client interviews, delivering guidance on testing, quarantine and home isolation, disease control intervention and education activities, and documenting key information for studying and understanding the local epidemic. 

“The Oklahoma State Department of Health has built a talented team of Oklahomans to serve on the frontlines and to help us respond to the unprecedented demands of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Amanda James, OSDH Contact Tracing Center project manager, said. “As this effort continues, we will continue to modernize our methods to conduct contact tracing, to include our latest effort to allow for text-based communications to notify Oklahomans of their potential exposure to COVID-19 and to maintain contact throughout their quarantine period.”

Call center case investigators can work up to 400 active COVID-19 cases per day, depending on the need for support by the local county health departments. In addition to this call center, the OSDH also has approximately 150 additional employees engaged in contact tracing and case investigation at the local county health departments. This figure does not include Oklahoma City-County or Tulsa Health Departments who each manage their respective contact tracing teams.

For information, visit coronavirus.health.ok.gov COVID-19 dashboard.

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