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Bracing for fall, Cincinnati hires more contact tracers

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Posted at 7:11 PM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-31 19:11:34-04

CINCINNATI — Bars, night clubs and small family gatherings still top the list of ways COVID-19 is spread in Cincinnati, city officials said in a Friday morning news conference.

The Cincinnati Health Department is shoring up its staff of contact tracers to continue following each case back to its roots. Thirty-one new contract tracers will join the team Monday to replace the school nurses who spent their summers assisting city health workers.

The new hires will bring the city’s total up from 43 contact tracers to 59 — more than the Ohio Department of Health recommends, according to epidemiologist Dr. Maryse Amin.

“ODH guides us by suggesting per 100,000 (people), you have 10-15 contract tracers,” she said. “For the city of Cincinnati, we’re estimating at 300,000, we would be between 30-45. We are above that mark just so we’re prepared when schools reopen and activities increase, that we have sufficient staff to do the contact tracing.”

Contact tracing involves asking people with COVID-19 where they were and with whom they’ve had contact in the time leading up to their diagnosis.

This questioning can lead investigators to the source of an infection, such as a specific party or workplace. Even when it doesn’t, it allows contact tracers to inform everyone in the patient’s proximity of the diagnosis and encourage them to get tested as well.

Amin said she understands not everyone will be able to retrace their own steps by memory if they get sick.

“If people can keep a diary, who they’ve been close to, where they’ve been, that would be a tremendous help,” she said.