By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– San Bernardino County is in the middle of a campaign to encourage more of our county residents to get tested for COVID-19, especially now that the self-swab nasal tests are so simple, painless and results are usually returned within 48 hours.
But hand-in-hand with a robust testing effort must be an efficient contact tracing program. Officials from the County Department of Public Health (DPH) report that the department’s contact tracing program is showing notable improvement in its efforts to connect with and advise individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.
When done in conjunction with testing, contact tracing slows the spread of the virus, keeping us on the path to reopen more sectors of our economy and eventually our schools. It does this by letting people know they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and should monitor their health for signs and symptoms, as well as get tested and possibly self-quarantine.
“We have seen a solid increase in the number of infected individuals we’ve been able to reach, from 46% a few weeks ago to 67% last week,” said County Public Health Director Corwin Porter. “We’re also seeing comparable improvements in the average length of time between a case being reported and the individual being contacted by one of our people, which is now less than a day.”
Porter added that the contact tracing team has expanded the number of languages spoken by its members, and he emphasized the critical role that contact tracing is playing in the County’s efforts to reduce the spread of the virus and improve public health.
“Contact tracing is a proven public health practice that has helped slow the spread of diseases ranging from measles and tuberculosis to HIV,” Porter said. “Our specially trained public health staff call residents who’ve tested positive and offer them guidance on how to respond. We then help them recall those they’ve been in close contact with so we can quickly notify thoseindividuals of their potential exposure and what they can do to protect themselves and others.”
Among the benefits of contact tracing is the ability to uncover potential infection “hot spots” around the county, as well as to identify how the disease is spreading in the local community. According to Porter, one of the program’s key findings is that gatherings of family members and friends continues to be a major contributor to the spread of COVID-19.
“We appreciate how difficult it is to resist getting together with friends and loved ones, especially after months of relative isolation,” he said. “But we are continuing to plead with county residents to be extremely cautious and do everything they can to avoid gathering in such groups.”
After the recent Labor Day holiday, residents are encouraged to get tested at any of the many testing sites operating throughout the county. To find locations and make an appointment, visit the County’s testing webpage.