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Bryan woman concerned about lack of contact tracing after testing positive for virus

The Brazos County Health District recently announced 50 people would be hired to help investigate and conduct contact tracing for COVID-19
Published: Jun. 28, 2020 at 8:00 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 28, 2020 at 9:33 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - A Bryan woman wants to warn others about catching COVID-19 as cases surge in the state. She tested positive last Tuesday even after taking precautions including wearing a mask and limiting where she went. Carrie Williams is at home quarantining, but she’s concerned that nobody has asked for a list of close contacts.

“That’s my main concern, is how do we stop it if the people are not being notified?” said Williams.

KBTX spoke with Williams via video conference to avoid close contact. She said after her diagnosis, the Brazos County Health District said they would follow up for contact tracing. She finally heard back from them on Friday, but they didn’t ask for that information.

”They didn’t say they would call back about no contacts,” she said. “I still haven’t given them a list yet and that concerned me. If we’re trying to fight this thing how do you notify the people? I tried to notify anybody that had been to my house,” said Williams.

The Brazos County Health District announced last week it would soon have more help with contact tracing and investigations, thanks to a collaborative partnership with Texas A&M, Blinn College, the twin cities, and Brazos County. The organizations will soon open a new Brazos Valley COVID Investigation Operations Center at the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

“Case investigation of all positive cases, collecting information on their symptoms and facilitating contact tracing to encourage isolation and best practices for managing the virus, are among the most important efforts we have to combat the pandemic, today,” said Santos Navarrette, Director of the Brazos County Health District.

With only one full-time epidemiologist on staff, the Health District has been relying on specially assigned support from the state, repurposing of district staff, and faculty and student volunteers from the Texas A&M School of Public Health.

The newly formed Brazos Valley COVID Investigation Operations Center will confirm and support positive cases, conduct contact tracing, provide access to resources for those impacted, and promote best practices for managing the impacts of the virus.

The Health District has partnered with Brazos Valley Workforce Solutions to identify funding sources from the Texas Workforce Commission. The funding will allow for the hiring of up to 54 positions, including contact tracers, case investigators, and epidemiologists. The positions are targeted to those dislocated workers due to COVID-19 economic impacts, those seeking a new career opportunity, and those of varying age groups or veteran status who are looking for a good wage job opportunity that helps the community.

New personnel will be assigned to work with Texas A&M faculty and staff at the Operations Center at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center facilities. Through a unique interagency agreement, Texas A&M says it is invested in creating an operations center space, information technology access for calling, and secure areas to conduct the investigations. Public Health faculty will help to select, train, and manage the personnel in best practices, ensuring local cases receive the very best information in a timely fashion. Dr. Angela Clendenin, Assistant Professor of Public Health, is serving as the Operations Center Project Manager.

Blinn College has joined the collaboration through an additional interagency agreement with Texas A&M to support the tracing of Blinn students, faculty, and staff during the pandemic.

“This collaboration is supporting public health during this crisis, while also creating jobs and ensuring economic recovery in our region by creating confidence in higher education officials, business leaders and visitors that we can operate a process to manage the impacts of the virus,” said Duane Peters, Brazos County Judge and 2020 Chair of the Brazos Valley Council of Governments.

All positions are posted online at www.WorkinTexas.com . Interested applicants, must register as a job seeker and then apply to one of the following position links and/or by searching for “Brazos County Health District”.

Contact Tracer: 14112872

Case Investigator: 14113156

Epidemiology Lead: 14113175

Williams is also upset her granddaughter that lives with her is also sick. She took her to the doctor on June 6 and was told it was likely allergies. She’s not sure if she caught COVID-19 from her.

”The advice I would give other people is that the coronavirus is real. I would tell people to still stay at home as much as possible because I thank God that my granddaughter is okay. It’s not a joke. It’s nothing to just not pay attention to,” Williams added.

Copyright 2020 KBTX. All rights reserved.

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