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contact tracing

Contact tracing is a core disease control measure. When someone tests positive, a contact tracer will ask the infected patient for telephone numbers of people who may have been around them. That way, these contacts can isolate, too.

Critics say South Florida has too few tracers. Others say they're not asking enough questions. Regardless, gaps exist and are growing. 

Contact tracing chart
Katie Lepri / WLRN

Hillsborough County's move to track down who has been around people who have contracted the coronavirus is set to ramp up in the next month.

The county's "contact tracing" program looks to get in touch with anyone who has been around people with the virus, and have them self-isolate to prevent its spread.

Cars lined up at drive-thru testing site at Tropicana Field.
St. Petersburg Police Department

More people are being tested for coronavirus in Florida as cases spike across the state. This is causing a logjam, not only in getting tested, but also in receiving results.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning Floridians of scammers trying to impersonate health officials. Moody says the calls are going out from people pretending to be contact tracers to get personal details from victims. She's advising people to verify that contact tracing calls are coming from county health departments.

An NPR survey of state health departments shows that the national coronavirus contact tracing workforce has tripled in the past six weeks, from 11,142 workers to 37,110. Yet given their current case counts, only seven states and the District of Columbia are staffed to the level that public health researchers say is needed to contain outbreaks.

The Florida Department of Health says it’s bringing on more contact tracers to keep track of COVID-19 cases, as the state continues to reopen.

NPR / YouTube

You might have never heard the phrase "contact tracing" until recently.

As Florida moves forward with the first phase of opening its economy, experts say contact tracers are a key piece of helping to monitor and quash the spread of the coronavirus.

Perry Brown is a professor of public health in epidemiology at Florida A&M University. He calls contact tracing the “bread and butter” of public health.