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230 Tennessee state employees 'repurposed' as coronavirus contact tracers


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- Tennessee health officials are ramping up the state’s coronavirus contact tracing effort as Gov. Bill Lee moves to end his shelter-at-home orders.


Lee says his Executive Order will not be renewed when it expires April 30.


State Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey noted on Tuesday that 230 state employees idled by the pandemic are currently being re-trained as health investigators. Piercey says she was "humbled" when so many state workers volunteered for the duty.


Dr. Piercey says the newly trained investigators will begin contact tracing by the end of this week. The work will be conducted in partnership with the state's county-level health departments.


Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will get a call from an investigator. The patient will be asked to use calenders, call records, credit card receipts and other resources to track their movements over the previous two weeks.


Anyone they had contact with will be quarantined for two weeks. Those indivudals will get daily calls from the contact tracers to ask if they're experiencing any symptoms of infection. If they do become ill, the entire contact tracing process begins again.


Nashville's health department has it's own contact tracing team. Metro Epidemiologist Leslie Waller told reporters last week her investigators are currently monitoring more than 450 city residents.

Waller says her staff of four has grown to 40 contact tracers and the department plans to hire still more investigators. Any Nashvillian found to have been within six feet of a virus positive person for more than 10 minutes is being asked to self-quarantine.

Waller stressed the city is not using cell phone data to monitor the movements of those quarantined.


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