Is contact tracing working in Florida?

Many people in Florida who tested positive for the coronavirus either weeks or even months ago are saying they were never contacted by the Department of Health. John Lober is one of those positive patients who’s in recovery but says he was never contacted.

“For me, I have good days and bad days,” said Lober about his road to recovery from coronavirus.

WINK News Reporter Dannielle Garcia understands. “Quarantine is probably the worst part of it,” she said. Lober agrees, “Yeah, it definitely is.”

Aside from not loving quarantine, the two also have something else in common: Neither of them has been contacted by the Department of Health.

“It is concerning that there isn’t that aspect of trying to control this,” Lober said.

That lack of control led Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber to write a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis in which he states that the governor has a large part to play in the rising number of cases throughout his county. This is because of the state’s “understaffed” and “underprepared” contact tracing system.

“Until we have a vaccine, the contact tracing is sort of the vaccine,” Gelber also said in his statement.

The governor has yet to respond to the letter.

Department of Health Collier County said it has contacted about 80-90% of patients that tested positive. When WINK News asked for documentation, the office did not provide it, citing that it was private information.

“Our investigations, they’re very intense; we’ve had contact investigations that run as deep as 30-40 people,” said Kristen Hollingsworth with Department of Health in Collier County.

In Lee County, the Department of Health says there are about 75 contact tracers. During a school board meeting this week, they mentioned that they were looking to hire even more.

“The goal is to quickly find contacts so we can isolate them. And we may not have been able to prevent the very first instance of exposure but once we identify all of those contacts, we can isolate them and then reduce the spread further,” said Jennifer Roth, biological administrator for the Department of Health in Lee County.

Charlotte County health officials had this to say: “As our staffing capabilities have increased since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, we are confident in our abilities to serve the needs of Charlotte County. We continue to assess our operational needs on a daily basis.”

During the chat with Lee County, they also promised to assign contact tracers specifically to the school district.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Drew Hill
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