The Health Department in Lee County reduced its contact tracers by about 75% over the past 3 months

Now people say they aren't getting called
Posted at 7:32 PM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 19:32:22-05

LEE COUNTY — The Department of Health in Lee County said it has dramatically reduced the number of contact tracers it has on staff.

The Department said the number of contact tracers has gone from 75 back in July to 19 right now.

This comes with COVID-19 cases on the rise again, and now, people are reaching out to Fox 4 saying they tested positive, but were never contacted by the Health Department.

Johnna Gracik said, when the Health Department called her to let her know she was positive, she thought everything was being taken care of.

“They were like, we’re going to contact everybody. I’m going to make sure I check in with you to see how your symptoms are. I want to make sure everything is okay, and I was like cool, awesome, this is really great," said Gracik.

But Gracik said that was the last she heard from them. Gracik also notified her University, Florida State, which has its own contact tracing program. She said that’s the one her contacts finally heard from.

“None of my family members got contacted. None of my roommates were contacted. So pretty much no one had been contacted yet, until FSU called," said Gracik.

Gracik said her sister immediately went to a testing site, where she tested negative. She signed up for a text monitoring system at the time, but the communication wasn’t any better.

“There was no follow through, even when my sister said that she was showing symptoms. My sister had to call and reschedule to get re-tested. They never called or anything like that," said Gracik.

The Department of Health said the 19 contact tracers serve all of Lee county, which has more than 700,000 people. We wanted to know if that was adequate, so we reached out to an expert at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Laura Breeher.

“Each state designs their system a little bit differently, and it’s very hard to say what the right number of contact tracers are," said Dr. Breeher.

But Gracik said it’s not hard for her to say that her case could have been handled better.

“I just feel like we could be doing so much more, and we’re not," said Gracik.

The Health Department said it employs a certain number of contact tracers based on the case load in the county. The Department also said it has received $1.96 million so far to provide contact tracing until June 30th, 2021.