Hillsborough To Expand 'Contact Tracing' Program

Jul 10, 2020
Originally published on July 9, 2020 7:58 pm

Hillsborough County's move to track down who has been around people who have contracted the coronavirus is set to ramp up in the next month.

The county's "contact tracing" program looks to get in touch with anyone who has been around people with the virus, and have them self-isolate to prevent its spread.

Douglas Holt of the Florida Department of Health told members of the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group Thursday that they currently have about 83 people doing the tracing. He says they'll use federal funds to get 20 more people on board by this weekend and another 20 after that.

“My hope is that by August, we’ll have approximately 239 people – split about 50/50 between investigators and contract tracers,” he said. “This will serve us as we go forward in this effort to get the virus suppressed and contained, and eventually we won’t eliminate it – but we will get it back to where it is not a threat.”

But Marissa Levine, a professor at USF's College of Public Health, told group members that a county the size of Hillsborough needs at least 400 contact tracers.

Also, Tim Dudley, head of Hillsborough County’s emergency management department, told the group they ran out of 30,000 masks they had distributed to county libraries Thursday. He said they have ordered another 33,000.

Dudley also announced Hillsborough will open another coronavirus public testing site, in Town 'n' Country.

The county will partner with Tampa Family Health Centers to open the location, expand testing coverage to the western part of the county, and provide Friday evening and Saturday appointments. It will be the eighth public site where Hillsborough residents can be tested free of charge.

More information about the Town 'n' Country site will be announced when appointments are made available.

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