More Contact Tracers Needed

County health departments on both sides of the Ohio River are under enormous strain because of the drastic increase in COVID-19 cases. They need help, especially in the critical work of contact tracing.

That is an attempt to identify people who, because of contact with others who test positive for the disease, may have picked it up. Often, if the contact has been close enough, quarantining is necessary.

Health department personnel throughout our area have been working very hard to handle various tasks linked to the epidemic. Many who normally perform tasks such as clerical and accounting have been pressed into service as contact tracers. That has been necessary despite the fact some health departments have hired temporary employees solely to handle that task.

COVID-19 has become an avalanche in both states. In West Virginia, 13,678 active cases of the disease were reported on Sunday. That was up from 10,707 just a week before. In Ohio, 8,133 new cases were recorded in one day.

Clearly, the need for contact tracing is going to increase at a dramatic rate. Local health departments need help — badly and immediately.

State officials should provide them with adequate funding to hire more contact tracers. Handling the task adequately truly is a matter of life and death in our states.


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