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State expands contact tracing to help slow spread of COVID-19

Lane County Public Health spokesman Jason Davis said the new guidelines mean more people could be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Posted: May 5, 2020 6:50 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- As Oregon moves closer to reopening, public health contact tracers have been given additional guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Lane County Public Health spokesman Jason Davis said contact tracers have now started to reach out to people who are presumed to have COVID-19.

Before, they were only reaching out to people who already tested positive to find out when they got sick and where they have been.

Now new guidelines from the state ask them to reach out to people who have symptoms and have had known contact with someone who has tested positive but have not been tested themselves. Davis said they will ask those people to self-isolate for 14 days.

"This will enable us to go down that path of reopening," Davis said. "We are going to sacrifice some individual freedoms on an individual level with these cases for the need to have a more relaxed atmosphere throughout our communities."

Davis said contact tracers also make sure people who are self-isolating have needed supplies like food to make sure they don't break quarantine.

Gov. Kate Brown has asked public health leaders to have 15 contact tracers per 100,000 people. Right now, Lane County has seven, but Davis said they have put a plan in action to get more.

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