Louisiana sees slight uptick in contact tracing compliance
BATON ROUGE - State health officials say that, recently, more people are picking up the phone when contact tracers give them a call.
Louisiana’s contact tracing program has been up and running since mid-May. Trained contact tracers have been tasked with calling people who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
Those in charge of contact tracing at the Louisiana Department of Health say they’ve been making improvements to the program that could explain why more people are answering the phone.
Omar Khalid with LDH is helping coordinate the program. He says the department just hired more workers to make those calls with cases on the rise again.
“We have been keeping a close eye on the increase in cases and what that means for our volume,” Khalid said.
Over the past month and a half, Khalid says that LDH has tweaked how contact tracers try to get in touch with people.
“We recently intuited a text message capability that will be sent out and people can receive a text letting them know that the health department is going to be reaching out to them,” Khalid said.
Sending out those initial text messages have/has helped in getting responses, according to Khalid.
Over the past 7 days, contact tracers have made contact with 63 percent of the people on their call list, totaling around 3,100 successful calls.
That’s compared to the first week of contact tracing during May 18 when just 40 percent of people were reached.
“All things said, 60 percent is okay, although we want that number to be high as possible,” Khalid said.
The state has continued to see high numbers of COVID cases coming in each day over the past week. Khalid says they’re stepping up calls as the influx of test results come in.
“We brought on about 100 additional contact tracers over the last week that have completed their contact tracing sort of training that we provide,” Khalid said.
In total, there are now around 500 contact tracers working in Louisiana. That number could go up or down depending on where the state stands with the coronavirus.
Health officials are continuing to urge people to answer the phone when they see this phone number, 877-766-2130, or if the caller ID says Louisiana Department of Health.
Khalid says that their goal is to help residents prevent the spread of COVID-19 by informing them and providing suggestions and resources if they tested positive or came close with someone who has.