A week after testing positive for COVID-19, a Lynchburg-area woman says she still has not heard from contact tracers


LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — A Lynchburg-area woman is asking why, a week after testing positive for COVID-19, she has received no guidance on what to do next.

“Very much feeling like I’ve been left in the dark,” said Maria Childress, a Madison Heights resident.

Childress took a COVID test last week, before a surgery.

“So I got the results in about two days. Tested on Tuesday, got the result on Thursday.”

The test was positive, and she began her quarantine, expecting a call from the Health Department so they can track down anyone who she might have infected.

“And I proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait. And I’m still waiting.”

When a person tests positive for COVID-19, they receive a phone call from the Health Department to try and figure out who they may have infected, so those people can be told to get tested and to isolate.

That “contact tracing” is supposed to start within a day of a positive result. However, Childress says a full week later, she still has not heard from a contact tracer, something the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) says is unusual.

“No, that shouldn’t be happening,” said Lindsey Cawood, the Public Information Officer for the Central Virginia Health District, which is based in Lynchburg. “That’s highly abnormal. It doesn’t sound right to me, to be honest.”

Cawood says the Health District has nine contact tracers, meeting their local needs, and says they reach out much faster than the week Childress described.

“One day for getting in touch with the cases and two days,” said Cawood, “maybe three days at the most, for getting in touch with contacts of cases.”

Still, Childress says she’s had no guidance and doesn’t know where to go for help. She’s been letting close contacts know herself that they might want to get tested.

“I feel like I’m doing the job of the contact tracers, or at least what has been told the job of the contact tracers is, and I don’t have the training or the information to know what I’m doing.”

Cawood said VDH will investigate the matter.

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