Health departments conduct contact tracing to prevent spread of COVID-19

ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - Some say 'knowing is half the battle' and that is why officials with the Carter County Health Department said staff members have been working diligently reaching out to and informing people who have been in contact with active COVID-19 cases.

Mendy Spohn, OSDH regional director for District 8, said nurses and members of the Oklahoma National Guard were busy investigating active cases in southern Oklahoma on Friday.

"Contact tracing might sound really big or might sound invasive but, truly, all it is is making sure that those people who have been in contact with a case, that are at the highest risk, know," Spohn said.

When a person tests positive for COVID-19, healthcare workers ask that person where they have been and how they have interacted with people.

From there, people categorized as 'high risk' are contacted and told to quarantine for 14 days and are also checked on every day and tested, if needed.

District 8, which includes Carter, Garvin, Jefferson, Johnston,
Love, Marshall, Murray, Pontotoc and Stephens counties, has less than 100 high risk contacts from their 11 active cases.

Spohn said, right now, tools for prevention are limited since there is no vaccine or quick treatment for COVID-19.

"That's why it's so important to have contact tracing in place to make sure that, as we reopen our communities, that we're not just allowing people that are exposed to continue to walk and maybe develop illness and spread it even further," Spohn said.

As Oklahoma begins its second phase of reopening, Spohn said individual behavior and knowing your personal risk is going to make the difference regarding spread.

"(People should consider) making good decisions about what exposures they feel are essential or considering who they live with, who's in their household, who do they work with that could be vulnerable," Spohn said.

Curbside testing for COVID-19 is available at every county health department in District 8.