Coronavirus contact tracers keep busy with recent infection uptick

Contact Tracing

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Inside Jefferson County Public Health, a team of contact tracers makes dozens and dozens of calls.

It starts, health planner Faith Lustik says, when a person tests positive for COVID-19.

“We go back 48 hours from when they were tested or became infectious,” she said. “We ask them specific question to figure out where they were and what they did and who they were in contact with.”

Then the contact tracers go to work on the phone. They call everyone who spent more than 10 minutes with the infected person while being less than six feet apart, even if they were wearing a mask.

“It’s incredibly important,” Lustik said. “We have to take those cases and isolate them so they don’t spread the disease to someone else.”

The current wave of cases, linked to an island near Clayton on the St. Lawrence River, poses a big challenge.

“Many people have attended these different events and there is a lot of contacts, Lustik said. “People got together not necessarily being familiar with each other, and having their boats get together. So you’re trying to do contact tracing, but they might not have really known the other people who they were with.”

Contact tracing can end up being very complicated. If eight or 16 people test positive and if each of them was in contact with only two or three other people, and each of those people was only in contact with two or three others, it adds up quickly.

There will be a testing site for residents at the Clayton Fire Hall from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday.

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