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State looking for 'more cooperation' when it comes to contact tracing

4 months 2 weeks 4 days ago Monday, June 08 2020 Jun 8, 2020 June 08, 2020 9:22 PM June 08, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Weeks after ramping up Louisiana's contact tracing plan, Gov. John Bel Edwards says the state could use more help from the public.

"The contact tracing has to be effective," Edwards said. "And it's not going to be effective if people don't answer the phone and allow the contact tracer to share information with those individuals."

As of June 8, a total of 521 people have been hired as contact tracers. 427 have already completed training, with 299 making calls. 

Getting COVID-19 positive patients and contacts to pick up the phone is not proving to be easy.

Data provided by the Louisiana Department of Health shows as of June 2, contact tracers attempted to call 4,280 positive patients, managing to successfully reach 2,130. 

When it comes to any contacts provided by positive patients, success is similar. As of June 2, contact tracers attempted to call 1,136 contacts, managing to successfully reach 693. Edwards is hoping more residents will be forthcoming moving forward to help in the state's virus response.

"I'm not going to say it's thwarting our efforts," Edwards said. "We just know that it's limiting the effectiveness of those efforts at this time. And we hope that as we continue to emphasize the importance of contact tracing and what individuals' roles are in that overall effort, that there will be more support and more cooperation."

While contact tracing numbers could look better, one piece of data Edwards calls 'heartening' is that Louisiana hasn't seen a spike in cases day-to-day since lifting the stay-at-home order more than three weeks ago.

"One of the most heartening things is we're now two weeks removed from the Memorial Day weekend and we have not seen the surge in cases or hospitalizations that could've come with that increased mobility and the contact we saw happening across the state of Louisiana," Edwards said. 

Edwards warns, however, Louisiana, once second in the nation in cases per capita, could see a spike in the future. If that were to happen, any response would depend on where the influx in cases is coming from.

"We need to know whether the spike in cases is a function of the increased testing," Edwards said. "Whether we believe the spike suggests community spread or whether it's really in congregant settings. Whether it's leading to additional hospitalization or not. Are the hospitalized more acute or less acute? There's so much that goes into this."

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