Local response to changes to contact tracing process

North Dakota National Guard
North Dakota National Guard(KFYR-TV)
Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 9:46 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. - The North Dakota Department of Health announced recently that COVID-19 positive people are now responsible for their own contact tracing, except for certain organizations.

The change is already helping the department work through cases faster and return to their goal of reaching close contacts within 24 hours.

“We are working through that backlog. Our goal is to be caught up today,” said North Dakota Health Department Field Epidemiologist and Director of Field Services, Brenton Nesemeier.

Lisa Clute with First District said there were as many as 1300 back logged on Monday.

Tuesday night the department announced that from now on COVID positives would do their own contact tracing with guidance from the National Guard.

“They have a script that they are utilizing to call out to those positive cases, and as I understand it, and I have not yet seen the script, they will then identify how you define a close contact,” said Clute.

According Nesemeier,  there are roughly 400 contact tracers that will continue to investigate close contacts for certain organizations like Trinity Homes and Somerset Court.

“If they are affiliated with long term care health care workers, k-12, and university we are still doing some more detailed contact tracing,” said Nesemeier.

Clute said at times positives have been unwilling to work with contact tracers.

Now that the National Guard will help out with educating positives on how to find their close contacts she asks that the public be respectful.

“I just really encourage people to be polite in their response to them. Cooperative on what they are giving them for advice,” said Clute.

The North Dakota Department of Health defines close contacts as individuals who have been within six feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes during a 24-hour period.

If you have been identified as a close contact visit the North Dakota Department of Human Health website or contact your health provider to determine if you need to quarantine.

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