Lynchburg area health department is weeks behind on contact tracing some COVID cases

Coronavirus

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The Central Virginia Health District, which covers Lynchburg and the surrounding counties, reports contact tracers and case investigators are still working through a weeks-long backlog of cases.

“We have been behind for several weeks,” said Dr. Kerry Gateley, the health director for the district.”We had some cases that might have been from the later part of August still, in the last week of August.”

The health department is still trying to track possible exposures from COVID cases that were confirmed at least two weeks ago. When Gateley said this, WFXR News asked if contact tracing is even effective at that point.

“It’s not at that point,” he said.

Gateley explained that in early- and mid-August, he only had three case investigators. At that time, the department was hit with a lot of positive results at once, as many as 90 cases in one day.

“A good case investigator might be able to do seven or eight cases a day,” explained Gateley. “You have three case investigators, they can do, you know, 24 of those cases in a day, of those 90 cases in a day, so what you end up starting to see is a backlog of cases.”

He says he now has a team of twelve trained caseworkers. He says despite the backlog, he believes his department is ready to handle contact tracing on a larger scale as more students re-enter schools.

“Now that we have that level of staff, we have redone our processes. We’ve restructured somewhat, so that we give real emphasis on those new cases.”

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