The Youngstown health department could receive $45,195 from the Ohio Department of Health and Mahoning County Public Health to hire two additional people for the COVID-19 contact tracing team.
YOUNGSTOWN — Health Commissioner Erin Bishop discussed the need for additional funding for the Youngstown City Health District at Monday’s city council finance committee meeting.
Bishop said the health district has sought additional funds for contact tracing due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the city. In the last week, Youngstown has reported 258 new cases.
“For our contact tracing team, if the 258 people have been with 10 contacts, that’s over 2,500 calls they need to make,” Bishop said.
City council will vote on two ordinances Wednesday for the acceptance of $45,195 from the Ohio Department of Health and Mahoning County Public Health for COVID-19 contact tracing.
The health district will use the funds to hire two additional people to help with contact tracing, Bishop said. There are currently 10 people on the team with other members of the health district volunteering to help make calls.
Bishop said the additional members to the contact tracing team will help, especially as COVID-19 cases have increased.
“Hopefully that surge will subside soon, and we won’t have as many calls, but we just have to be prepared,” Bishop said.
Bishop said the team does not have a backlog of people to contact right now.
“We are quick at calling people,” Bishop said. “It’s just taking a long time to get from the testing site to the lab and to our system.”
Once the lab puts a positive test into the Ohio Disease Reporting System, Bishop said her department can start calling people for contact tracing.
The list of people the team called Monday was from people who tested positive over the weekend, Bishop said.
Bishop said people can be hesitant at first to tell them where they were and who they were in contact with when it comes to contact tracing. When the team calls, they are letting that person know about testing positive, answering questions and offering resources to help pay bills or obtain groceries while they quarantine.
For those who have come in contact with someone who tested positive, the team answers questions they may have and enter them into the Ohio Department of Health reporting system so they can be tracked if they get symptoms. CDC guidelines do not require people who have come in contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive to get tested if they don’t have symptoms. However, they must quarantine for 14 days.
“[The calls are] just for their benefit and for to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Bishop said.