OLYMPIA — The Washington State Department of Health is rapidly training personnel to support case investigations and contact tracing. As of May 19th, 723 National Guard personnel and 769 Department of Licensing personnel have been trained to help local health jurisdictions with this work as needed.
“I’m grateful to the agencies who answered the call to contribute to this important work,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “We are all in this together, and the support from the National Guard and the Department of Licensing affirms that. Rapid work to track and prevent the spread of disease is an important piece of our ability to safely emerge from this pandemic.”
Case investigations and contract tracing are key public health strategies to prevent the spread of disease. Public health staff interview people who test positive for COVID-19 to identify and contact anyone who may have been exposed while they were contagious. The public’s participation is voluntary. This process ensures everyone who gets or is exposed to the virus has access to information and services to protect themselves and their loved ones.
These personnel supplement roughly 630 local and state public health professionals already available to do this work. The state is also reviewing applications from thousands of volunteers across Washington and finalizing the plan to appropriately screen and train volunteers if needed in the coming months.
“The National Guard is proud to support the voluntary COVID mapping led by the Department of Health,” said Major General Bret D. Daugherty, Washington’s Adjutant General. “Our soldiers live and work in communities across Washington – they’re your friends and neighbors. I have no doubt they’ll bring their usual high degree of professionalism to this task.”
The increase in people able to do this work supports two key future goals: contact everyone with a positive test result for COVID-19 within 24 hours to determine their close contacts; and contact all close contacts within 48 hours. The public’s participation in these efforts is voluntary.
“Case investigations and contact tracing are key pieces of the effort to keep Washington residents safe,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “Both have been critical tools to suppress the virus in other parts of the world.”
In recent weeks, we’ve strengthened and standardized our case investigation and contact tracing protocols. We are also documenting available resources that may be needed while healthy people who have been exposed to COVID-19 stay home to ensure they do not develop symptoms (quarantine) or stay home to recover from being sick (isolation). You can learn more about case investigation and contact tracing on the DOH website. DOH has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state regarding COVID-19, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press # or text 211211.
– Washington State Department of Health