Health officials warn COVID-19 spread will get worse if people don’t answer contact tracing questions

Contract tracers run into obstacles, cooperation is key

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - As more cases pop up around Southeastern North Carolina there’s an increased push for contact tracing. It’s where health workers track down people who may have been exposed to the virus and let them know they may need to be tested as well.

“If we can’t try to contact people who have been exposed then I can’t try to stop it where it is,” said Carla Turner, Assistant Health Director of New Hanover County.

This has been a common problem facing contract tracers across the state. Turner says thousands of calls have been made informing people they’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and thousands more have gone out to their associates through contact tracing.

She says it’s not a hard process and can really help save lives, but they’ve run into some issues.

“We have people that we call and they don’t want to share any information with us,” said Turner.

It takes just a few minutes of your time but she says folks have hung up the phone when asked vital questions about who they’ve been around...making it hard for health officials to fight the spread of COVID-19.

“If I’m a contact and nobody’s told me and I’m asymptomatic and I’m hanging out with my children or my senior father, then I’m putting them at risk and I don’t even know it because I’ve not been notified that I’m a close contact,” said Turner.

Turner says that’s why working with contact tracers is so important. It’s not meant to be invasive and no one is getting into trouble; it’s all an effort to locate those in the community who may have been exposed to the virus. It’s vital to notify them to help stop the spread but it only works if you cooperate.

Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.