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Contact tracing for COVID-19 continues in Louisiana, but not everyone is responding



MONROE, La. – Contact tracing for COVID-19 continues in Louisiana, but not everyone is responding to the call.

In a press conference from earlier this week, Gov. John Bel Edwards encouraged people to do a better job at participating.

“They have a right not to participate, but not participating is not the right thing to do. So, we are asking for people to participate better,” he said.

The following information comes from the Louisiana Office of Public Health and represents the time period between May 15th and June 24th. In Region 8, or Northeast Louisiana, 66 percent of those who tested positive for COVID-19 that were reached out to responded to contact tracers. The tracers also reached out to notify people who may have had contact with those who tested positive. 95 percent of those calls were answered.

Statewide, 72 percent of those in the first group responded during the same time period, as did 77 percent in the second.

“The response rates, in some cases, it’s due to missing numbers or wrong numbers. We’ve researched those to try to correct those where we can. But in some cases, it’s just, you know, we have a number, we call it, and for whatever reason, you know, people aren’t picking up,” said Omar Khalid, Chief of Staff of the Louisiana Office of Public Health.

He said the majority of people they’ve had contact with have been complying and doing their part. However, he said it’s possible some still aren’t responding because they don’t recognize the phone number, or they’re hesitant to share their business.

Khalid said the information they collect is held under the strictest protection guidelines. He said they won’t identify anyone when they warn people they may have come into contact with the virus.

“We just notify them that they may have come into close contact with one of these individuals. It helps them prevent, you know, maybe change their behavior, you now, prevent them from going out, maybe attending social events,” he said.

Khalid also said, despite whatever rumors people may hear, they won’t be penalized for not responding.

“Obviously there’s nothing we can do to force anyone to comply. This is just an effort for public health to reach out, to help inform you of news, I think I would personally want to know if I was unknowingly exposed to someone or in close contact with someone who had the disease so I could modify my own behavior and protect people around me,” he said.

Though some follow up services may come from other numbers, Khalid said the initial call will always come from the Department’s number at 877-766-2130. He said people will have the option to opt in to a text service after contact is first made. However, if they get a text before a call, Khalid said they can disregard it.