Medical

Indiana officials say virus contact tracing is a must to reopen state

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Every person who has the coronavirus has the potential to infect dozens of others, even while not showing symptoms.

Tracking down every single person that has been in contact with a positive case is going to take time, training and people.

“Many of our local health departments basically take everybody they can from the health department and have been identifying as these positive cases come through and calling them,” said Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana state health commissioner.

The health department will need to know where the patient has been and then it will map out others that might have been exposed.

“It is a very difficult process; it has become very large with the number of cases that we have,” said Box. “The State Department of Health has been investigating and doing a lot of the contact tracing to help.”

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Box said the state needs to hire people to do the investigating and those people need to trained.

Thomas Duszynski, lecturer and epidemiology education director at Richard Fairbanks School of Public Health, is helping with the training.

“Contact tracing in COVID-19 is going to require a lot of people to do this, so our effort is to build a training program that can be utilized to train a lot of people quickly, be it distance learning,” said Duszynski.

What the training will look like and what information is collected is still in development.

“My anticipation is that we will start doing contact tracing when we start to reopen the economy in stages,” said Duszynski. “The more businesses that open and the more the economy opens, then the more people we are going to need.”

The information collected has historically been stored at the State Department of Health. Only those who need to understand how the disease is affecting the state will have access to the information.

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