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Changes coming to COVID-19 contact tracing in Mecklenburg; don’t expect a call when you test positive

Do not expect a call from the health department when you test positive for COVID-19.
Do not expect a call from the health department when you test positive for COVID-19.
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 8:07 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 at 10:18 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County is, ‘in the red.’ The number of positive COVID-19 cases puts it at a high community spread for more than a month.

At the same time, what has been pushed as a key tool to prevent the spread, the county is pulling back on: Contact tracing.

“It was right before Christmas when I got it,” Dayelin Anuel said.

Shortly after Anuel tested positive for COVID-19 she got a call from the Mecklenburg County Health Department.

“They kind of just asked when I was positive and whether or not I was symptomatic or not,” Anuel said. “Then they also asked whether or not anybody else in the household had contracted COVID. So it was pretty brief.”

That’s how contact tracing has worked since the start of the pandemic. Now, you’ll be asked to do it on your phone.

When you test positive and it’s reported to the state health department – you’ll get a text. Click on the link and it asks when you first had symptoms. It then explains who you need to notify and that comes down to when you were transmissible with the virus. The link then asks you to fill out the information for those who need to be contacted. The system takes it from there and lets those people know.

At the same time, what has been pushed as a key tool to prevent the spread, the county is pulling back on: Contact tracing.

“As you might imagine we’ve been working for the last two years to reach out and call everyone diagnosed with COVID which is not sustainable in the long haul, COVID’s with us and it’s not going anywhere,” Mecklenburg County Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington said.

It all comes down to keeping up with the number of people testing positive according to Dr. Washington.

“I didn’t think that it, you know, made a big like difference or impacted me whether or not they called. But I think it definitely is more effective in the sense that you actually have contact with that person versus if you send a link. By email, you know the person may miss it may not really respond,” Anuel said.

Anuel said she appreciated the call from the health department but it was more important for her to personally reach out to the people she’d been around and hopes others who test positive will do the same.

Contact tracing and case investigation will not end in Mecklenburg County completely. Instead, they will focus on high-priority settings – like prisons, nursing homes and shelters.

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