How is contact tracing going in Jefferson County?

Study: Alabama needs more contact tracers

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - A recent study about contact tracing in the U.S. shows only a handful states have enough tracers per capita, and Alabama was not one of them.

That study from Test and Trace, which is an organization that grades states on their testing and tracing, estimates that the pandemic would require 30 contact tracers per 100,000 people.

Medical Director of Disease Control for the Jefferson County Department of Health, Dr. Wesley Willeford, said that number isn’t necessarily wrong, but it is a bit misguided.

Dr. Willeford said the department is easily able to meet all the obligations needed to investigate a COVID-19 case and perform contact tracing.

He said we have roughly 68 contact tracers in Jefferson County, and with the help of a contract agency, it is able to find more people qualified to do contact tracing fairly quickly.

He said the reality is that number of contact tracers needed will vary depending on what cases are looking like locally at a given time.

“If we had that many contact tracers employed with us all at once, there would be a large number of them who might not be doing anything. So, we’re trying to gage our resources so that we’re using them when we need them the most but leaving us the flexibility to expand out when the moment arises,” Dr. Willeford said.

Dr. Willeford admits early on in the pandemic the department was struggling to keep up with all the cases that were coming in, especially back in July.

Right now, he says cases of the virus are holding steady at around 80 to 100 cases per day.

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