DAVE ROSS

UW Virology head: As state struggles with contact tracing, system ‘needs to be improved’

Sep 18, 2020, 9:25 AM

contact tracers, contact tracing...

Pierce County's contact tracing team. (Tacoma-Pierce County Public Health)

(Tacoma-Pierce County Public Health)

As Washington continues to battle its COVID-19 crisis, contact tracing efforts have fallen short of what the state has hoped to achieve. Even so, those efforts remain crucial for keeping the virus under control.

Voluntary contact tracing efforts expand in Washington state

A recent report released by the state Department of Health found that between Aug. 30 and Sept. 5, it had managed to contact 49% of confirmed COVID cases within a day of receiving a positive lab result, while contacting roughly 70% of case contacts within two days.

Those numbers are well short of the DOH’s goals of 90% and 80% respectively. That’s led to problems that UW Virology head Dr. Keith Jerome hopes to see fixed in the near future.

“I think that it’s not working as well as we wish it were, and it needs to be improved,” Dr. Jerome told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross.

According to state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy, part of the problem is that some people simply won’t participate or are not willing to reveal the names of their close contacts, while others don’t respond at all.

Even with those issues, though, Jerome still sees value in continuing to ramp up contact tracing efforts.

Contact-tracing app NOVID uses the ‘6 degrees of COVID-19’

“I want people to understand that all these precautions we’re taking for this virus, whether it’s contact tracing, a mask, or a vaccine, they’re not success or failure; they’re not black and white. Everything is just trying to reduce the transmission a little bit,” he noted.

That being so, even when it’s not working optimally, contact tracing remains a key element in tracking and limiting COVID-19 cases. Essentially, it’s better to have some than none when it comes to any measure that mitigates the spread of the virus.

“It’s the same way with contact tracing,” Dr. Jerome said. “Yeah, it’s not even close to perfect right now, but it’s still helping, and we’ve got to make it better so that it helps more.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave Ross

rent control...

Dave Ross

Ross: Rent control was never the answer in Wash.

The rent control bill died in the Washington State Legislature this week, even though Democrats control both houses.

1 day ago

end of democracy...

Dave Ross

Ross: Conservative activist earns applause for pledging an ‘end of Democracy’

The theme from Jack Posobiec's speech is that Jan. 6 was a righteous attack not on democracy, but on those who threaten democracy.

2 days ago

Image: Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colorado, is seen on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, 2023. (Photo: Alex Brand...

Dave Ross

Ross: Voters can help cull bad politicians from the herd early

Let's remember that just about every occupant of a higher office once occupied a lower office, and was put there by us, Dave Ross says.

9 days ago

Super Bowl celebration...

Dave Ross

Ross: The NFL does it again

The NFL once again put on a show that was able to keep me tuned in for four hours even though I had no stake in either team.

16 days ago

social media...

Dave Ross

Ross: Is the Wild West of social media over after Senate hearing?

The original social media business model was genius -- get ordinary people to create content for free, sell ads and give the content creators a cut.

27 days ago

"I Voted" stickers are ready to be distributed to each person who filled out a ballot. (AP Photo/Ro...

Dave Ross

Ross: Initiatives will be the stars of November ballot

The November ballot will have a lot more than a presidential race and an open race for Governor.

30 days ago

UW Virology head: As state struggles with contact tracing, system ‘needs to be improved’