© 2020 | Jefferson Public Radio
KSOR Header background image 1
a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Health and Medicine

Jackson County Is Running Low On COVID Case Investigators

coronavirus4 - NIH via Flickr.jpg
National Institutes of Health
/
Flickr

When someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, several public safety steps follow. Workers at Jackson County Public Health are struggling to keep up with the rising demand.

After every positive COVID test, public health officials research the case. A case investigator pinpoints when the person got sick and identifies people they may have passed it along to. That list gets sent to contact tracers, who get in touch with those people.

Jackson County’s medical director Dr. Jim Shames says he’s low on staff to complete the initial case investigation.

“We’re feeling pretty stressed about it," says Dr. Shames. "We’re hiring new people but the workload is increasing at least as fast as the hiring process.”

As of Sunday, Jackson County has had 385 COVID cases. The number of positive cases in July is equal to the total of the previous three months combined.

Generally, case investigators are communicable disease nurses who are already knowledgeable about the virus. Because that involves a higher level of training, officials say it’s hard to keep up with staffing levels required by the pandemic.