Tarrant County’s Chief Epidemiologist, Russell Jones, continues the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 infections across the county.
“I’m not sure we ever got over the first wave. They kind of blend together. This could be wave two, but it just didn’t leave us alone long enough,” Jones said. “It’s booming everywhere across the state. I think the line is – ‘more people are being tested.’ That’s because more people are sick.”
The county is looking to hire contact tracing personnel; to contact people who may have come into contact with a person who has tested positive.
When someone tests positive, the team reaches out with a number of questions.
The latest news from around North Texas.
“Where do you work? Where do you recreate? Do you go to church somewhere? Have you gone out to eat? Where have you been and who have you been with,” Jones explained.
Beyond the call volume, tracing the contacts can be difficult for a number of reasons including getting people to simply answer a call from a number they don’t recognize.
Many also have problems remembering who they’ve been around and where they have gone.
“We’re getting to them a few days later and they are like ‘well I don’t remember where I was - so we have to do some memory jogging,” Jones said.
“They may start infectiousness there and then the viral replication in the respiratory tract reaches a peak usually the day right before or right at symptom onset and then it starts to fall,” Jones added. “So, we want to get them two days before they started getting sick to the day they decided ‘you know something is wrong with me. Maybe I should stay at home.’”
They hope to get to people before they unknowingly spread the virus.
“It’s those two days when they feel fine and they have no clue that they may be communicable at that time,” Jones said. “It’s the behavior of the community that determines the way this will go. We’re trying to get to contacts to mitigate the transmission, but that won’t stop it all, because people won’t answer the phone, people won’t remember correctly and even some contacts won’t self-isolate when we ask them to.”