HASTINGS – With a rise in coronavirus cases in the region, and the South Heartland District Health Department staff being stretched thin, they say it’s important for people to DIY contact trace and follow up after a positive coronavirus test. The department does have two external supports to help them follow up on new cases, including an automated survey system and a small team of contact tracers at Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. But Michele Bever, the Executive Director of the South Heartland District Health Department, says they need the public’s help as well.
When we were using our in house contact tracers our goal was to reach the public within 24 hours after receiving a positive result and reach that person. And we might have to leave messages if the person is not there so sometimes it takes a little longer than we’d hope to get a hold of folks. And as those cases increase, reaching people quickly really becomes more and more difficult. And so this automated system helps us manage more cases within that desired time frame.
When a positive lab test result is recorded, a text with an encrypted link to an online survey is automatically sent to the person who tested positive, provided they have a mobile phone number and are over age 18. The survey will be available for six hours and, if not completed, someone from the health department will call to conduct the interview by phone. If someone has symptoms or tests positive for the coronavirus they should immediately isolate themselves from others and tell their close contacts who may have been exposed. These helpful do-it-yourself (DIY) instructions about isolation and quarantine, how to determine which of your close contacts may have been exposed, and what to tell them, are available at NEtracing.Org.