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Experts say contact tracing 'more important now than ever' in battling COVID-19 pandemic

National and local experts agree contact tracing is going to be crucial in combating COIVD-19, especially before a predicted second wave this fall.

PHOENIX — As Arizona and the country look to reopen more, national and local health officials agree adequate contact tracing is going to be crucial in combating COVID-19. Especially as experts warn of a second wave of COVID-19 this fall.

“If we do not respond in an adequate way, when the fall comes, given that it is without a doubt that there will be infections that will be in the community, then we run the risk of having a resurgence,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID said.

Dr. David Engelthaler, Director of TGen North and former state epidemiologist, said TGen’s genome sequencing has shown coronavirus cases in Arizona are continuing to come from other states.

Adding, the idea behind contact tracing is to try and isolate a positive coronavirus case to keep it from spreading to other people.

“The whole point is to build up a wall around that person and try to find the other individuals that may have been exposed,” Engelthaler explained.

Maricopa County said in a statement to 12 News they had 25 investigators assigned to COVID-19 cases as of late April, and are hiring more people in a variety of positions to help out.

Dr. Cara Christ, director for the Arizona Department of Health Services said in a briefing Tuesday contact tracing at the state level is being increased to assist local health departments.

“More staff has to be brought in. More contact tracers, individuals with training in epidemiology, or that at least have an ability to do appropriate follow-up interviews and trace down,” Engelthaler said. “It’s essentially detective work.”

Engelthaler added as summer comes, this work will become even more crucial.

“Contact tracing is going to be more important now than ever,” Engelthaler said. “We could have a really tremendous second wave and what public health is doing with contact tracing now should hopefully lessen the degree of that wave.

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