Sen. Jack Reed pushes for $8 billion to beef up contact tracing
Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed is leading the national effort (along with 13 other senators) for $8 billion in new contact tracing funding. The money would help states recruit, train, and hire additional contact tracing staff.
Contact tracers go to work after a patient tests positive for coronavirus.
Mary Cloud wears many hats: URI professor, a registered nurse for 46 years, and now a new role as a volunteer contact tracer on the Rhode Island Department of Health’s case investigation team. “What we do is contact people who have tested positive,” Cloud told NBC 10 News.
Contact tracers are part detective, part social worker. Tracers track down a positive person’s close contacts typically up to two days before symptoms appeared, and most often tell those contacts to quarantine for 14 days.
The original source is usually already self-isolating.
“I find that they are, generally, even though we’re asking for so much information, they’re so glad to talk to somebody, to review everything and to get information,” said Cloud. “For many, they talk about how they FaceTime with their child in the other room or through a window. They really miss that physical contact.”
Cloud’s average call is 30 minutes, longer if a translator is needed.
“I feel privileged that I can help and hopefully I’m some source of comfort and education to those that I call,” said Cloud.
About 100 members of the Rhode Island National Guard are also contact tracing, helping 140 people from RIDOH investigate new cases, according to a spokesperson.
In Massachusetts, about 1,000 contact tracers are on the job as part of a community tracing collaborative with Partners in Health.
“Originally when we first started putting this together, we projected a person would have around 10 contacts that would then need to be contacted. So far, the average number of contacts is actually only two,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. Source