Spike In COVID-19 Cases Overwhelms Wyoming Contact Tracers

Nov 13, 2020

Since the spring, contact tracing has been a crucial way to limit the spread of the COVID-19. But the current surge of cases in Wyoming and beyond has health departments struggling to keep up.

"We were calling everybody who tested positive and all of their identified close contacts," said Kim Deti with the Wyoming Department of Health.

But as of last Friday, the department is only contacting those who have tested positive and asking them to let their close contacts know instead.

"Recent dramatic increases in Wyoming's case counts have made it challenging for state and county public health representatives to handle the volume of contact tracing calls and related activities as quickly as they were able to at earlier points," the department wrote in a news release.

Additionally, contact tracers have had a tough time getting in touch with people, and some have outright refused to answer contact tracers' questions.

"We would ask people to cooperate, to answer questions when they're asked, to not shy away from being tested in the first place, and to take those isolation and those quarantine strategies seriously," Deti said.

This week, for the first time, Wyoming reported more than 1,000 new cases in a day.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.