Dr. Avegno details some problems contact tracers face

Coronavirus

NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno says the state’s efforts to trace the contacts of COVID-19 patients are running into problems.

Contact tracing is seen by medical experts as an essential effort in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. Many countries who have brought coronavirus outbreaks under control relied heavily on contact tracing to get a handle on the situation.

Unfortunately, Avegno said the effort in Louisiana is not going well.

“This is a nationwide problem,” she said. “I’ve looked at New York’s numbers, LA’s numbers, they’re very, very similar. Some of it might be a language barrier. I know that LDH is really trying to ensure that they have staff that are trained in other languages that can really effectively communicate in other languages.”

Contact tracers have repeatedly reported asking COVID-19 patients how many people they have been in contact with, only to be told zero, according to Avegno.

“There’s just sort of a mistrust, unfortunately,” she said. “A mistrust of who’s calling on the other end of the phone. But we urge people, because this is to protect your friend. It’s protect whoever they are going out and infecting because they don’t know.”

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