The rise in COVID-19 cases has forced the North Dakota Department of Health to change its contact tracing process.
With around 400 contact tracers across the Peace Garden State, the rise in cases is creating a backlog.
“Many of our cases don’t call us back or don’t answer on the first attempt. So we still have those cases from the previous days on top of the new cases that come in to try and reach,” said Brenton Nesemeier, the Field Epidemiologist Supervisor for the NDDoH.
One of the main roadblocks contact tracers are seeing is people not willing to work with them.
“The biggest problem when people are noncompliant with contact tracing is that they’re out in public and they’re spreading it to others. And oftentimes unknowingly, because they may have not been aware of that,” said Nesemeier.
Now the Department of Health is handing over contact tracing to people who test positive, with the hopes that this will help speed up the process. They will be given a set of instructions on how to do it.
“We will give them some guidance on how they can approach the conversation and what they can tell people. Just knowing that the contacts may have some questions, we’re going to be making ourselves available to answer those questions for those contacts,” explained Kirby Kruger, Director of Disease Control for the NDDoH.
Contact tracing will continue for healthcare settings, schools and universities.
Kruger also says another big roadblock they’re running into is that most positive cases are coming from community spread.