Contact tracing for COVID-19 maxed out in Colorado

LeoPatrizi/iStock
LeoPatrizi/iStock

By ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News

(DENVER) — Colorado’s contact tracing capacity is tapped out, according to local health departments.

“Right now, we have about 1,400 cases or contacts of cases waiting to be reached out to,” Christine Billings, the emergency preparedness and response coordinator for Jefferson County Public Health, told ABC Denver affiliate KMGH-TV.

Earlier in the pandemic, tracers were able to reach out to people who were potentially exposed to COVID-19 within 24 hours. The backlog means tracers are only able to connect with 1 out of every 4 case contacts who have been exposed to the virus.

“We can’t make a dent,” Billings said.

While previously tracers reached 10 to 20 people for every positive case, now they reach two.

On Nov. 5, several local health departments in Colorado, including Jefferson County’s, sent a letter to the state outlining their concern.

“Cases are increasing at an alarming rate,” they wrote. “Contact tracing and investigation capacity is tapped.”

As of Nov. 19, new cases, testing positivity rate, hospitalizations and deaths all were rising in Colorado, according to an ABC News analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project. So far, 176,694 people have been infected with COVID-19 in Colorado and 2,324 have died of the virus, according to the state health department.

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