Orange County health officials in “crisis mode” to keep up with contact tracing

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — One of the biggest tools health officials have in the fight against the spread of coronavirus is contact tracing.

As the number of COVID cases rise, investigators in Orange County can no longer keep up with the work in front of them.

“When the number goes above 300, we have difficulty completing the task for the day,” said Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino.

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Dr. Pino says the goal is for contract tracers is to complete interviews within 24 hours of receiving a case.

“Our goal is to complete those interviews in the first 24 hours after we’ve received the case. When they go above 300 it’s very difficult for us to do that,” Pino said.

Contact tracers can spend anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour on each case and with more cases coming in every day it creates a backlog.

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Pino says now investigators have to prioritize the cases they investigate.

“Long-term care facilities, schools, first responders and healthcare workers. That will be our priorities to go to first,” he said.

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Help may be on the way. A new app launched by the state in Orange and Lake counties directs people who test positive to answer some basic contact tracing questions.

The hope is to gather as much information as possible and ultimately slow the spread.