MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) reported this week that it has already trained an additional 401 contact tracers as the agency continues to scale up the program to match expanded COVID-19 testing. The DHS and local public health agencies have completed nearly 18,000 contact tracing interviews since March.

“Our local health departments are already doing an excellent job with this work, and we want them to know we have their back,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a Tuesday news release. “As we increase testing to 85,000 a week, we’re expecting a big increase in the number of contact interviews per week, and we’re scaling up to meet that demand as well as deal with potential surges from local outbreaks.”

Contact tracing allows public health to track the spread of COVID-19 and break the chain of disease
spread. It’s done by contacting those who have tested positive, learning who they’ve had recent contact
with, and then contacting those individuals to provide guidance on testing and isolation. Under the Badger Bounce Back plan, the goal is to interview positive cases within 24 hours of diagnosis and contacts within another 24 hours. Staying home when one tests positive or is exposed to someone who is infected with COVID-19 will be critical to stopping the spread of the disease as we continue to turn the dial and further reopen the state.

DHS received more than 1,000 applications just days after new contact tracing job openings were announced. Interviews are planned for the week of May 11. DHS is coordinating the number of tracers with the number of projected tests and positive cases with the goal of having 1,000 statewide tracers.

DHS is also evaluating technology options to facilitate communication and case management, and
increase the speed and efficiency with which individuals who may need to quarantine are identified and
contacted.

DHS has released a wide array of data about COVID-19 in Wisconsin. To learn more, visit:
https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/index.htm.

Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...