Contact tracers prepare for a surge

LIHU‘E — State Department of Health Kaua’i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said her office is hiring a few more University of Hawai‘i-trained contact tracers.

Kaua‘i County has 61 contact tracers available.

There are 30 contact tracers per 100,000 population, depending on the rate of COVID-19 infections in a given area.

The tracers include the DOH Kaua‘i District Health Office employees and medical reserve corps members.

“As of press time, the county has five active cases, 51 recovered and 56 confirmed cases on the island, which means the contact tracers will be ready if needed,” Berreman said.

“Because our case counts remain low and our contact-tracing team is quite robust, we do not plan to bring on large additional numbers at this time,” Berreman said. “Several apps are being tested by various entities that can function as aids to contact tracing, but none fully replace contact-tracer personnel.”

The Kaua‘i District Health Office is part of the state DOH, and communicates daily with O‘ahu personnel, Berreman said.

“We learn from each other regularly,” Berreman said. “I appreciate the insights and experience of the O‘ahu team and the teams on the other neighbor islands.”

Interisland travel poses a risk of disease exposure, especially with so much active disease transmission on O‘ahu compared to Kaua‘i.

“Contact tracing is performed by phone, but interisland travel does not pose a significant barrier to contact-tracing efforts,” Berreman said. “The Kaua’i contact tracers are all located here on Kaua’i.”

Berreman claims Kaua‘i County has contacted all of the island’s confirmed cases within 24 hours of learning about them.

“There are a few instances that have taken longer related to extenuating circumstances such as those being out of telephone range, incorrect contact information or unresponsive to our outreach,” Berreman said. “We do informally track Kaua‘i when new cases are identified as a result of contact tracing.”

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who represents rural O‘ahu and the neighbor islands, was joined by three medical experts regarding allegations that lies are coming from the DOH leadership regarding contact-tracing efforts in Hawai’i.

During a press conference, Gabbard spoke of over $50 million in federal resources available to Hawai‘i for testing and tracing.

She pointed to conflicting claims from state health officials that there were dozens or over a hundred contact tracers, which proved to be a lie. She also called on Gov. David Ige to restore trust in the state Department of Health.

State leaders, including Ige, have long assured the public that sufficient contact-tracing staff are in place.

Gabbard’s press conference alleged there were less than 20 people statewide conducting contact tracing.

“The lies and gross negligence coming from state leaders has resulted in thousands more infected, hundreds hospitalized and an increasing death toll,” Gabbard said in a recent press release. “How many more people need to die before state leaders take necessary action?”

According to a DOH press release, the DOH launched its first phase of a statewide educational campaign as part of a comprehensive, multi-pronged solution to address the sustained number of COVID-19 cases in Hawai‘i.

The “Not Taking Chances” campaign, developed with research, creative and production support from Anthology Marketing Group, aims to change social norms by modeling attitudes and behaviors to underscore the importance of wearing facial masks and avoiding groups and social gatherings, the release states.

“Prevention is key to bringing the number of cases down,” said DOH Director Dr. Bruce Anderson, noting that disease investigation, contact tracing, testing and other aspects of the pandemic response are vital priorities.

“We believe our efforts dovetail with the City &County of Honolulu’s ‘One O‘ahu’ campaign,” Anderson said. “It is already underway, and will create a powerful, cumulative effect throughout the island.”

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Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.

14 Comments
  1. mina August 24, 2020 5:53 am Reply

    I am concerned that neither the county refuse transfer station employees nor the people using the facility in Hanapepe are masking up or maintaining social distance, even though two large signs at the entrances indicate that it’s required. So, if you’re a county employee, you immune to covid, or it’s impossible for you to spread it.? How is contract tracing going to work if one sick, unmasked county employee spreads it to everyone using the transfer station?


  2. sarah August 24, 2020 7:05 am Reply

    Tulsi Gabbard needs to stop her grandstanding…. and she needs to get her facts correct before she speaks out. Thank you DOH for your work.


  3. Twain August 24, 2020 9:45 am Reply

    Not enough of us are overwhelmed with joy every time they list statistics of more and more positive Covid19 cases; because it means that that many more people with positive tests are getting the virus exposure and immune response to the virus and for sure are getting specific antibodies and IMMUNITY to the virus, bringing us all closer to herd immunity and relief from the grip of fear that the media and politicians have too many people ignorantly sufferng from.

    Note how each report has maybe 1 or 2 or ZERO amount of hospitalizations out of hundreds pop new cases. And deaths are even fewer and far between, and even then are older people with pre-existng diseases and years, even decades, of taking toxic prescription drugs bringing them closer to end of life even before they contracted the virus.

    All these health officials should be getting to the older people with medical and pharmacy record of end of life diseases and decades long histories of taking prescription drugs.

    Remember no one is sick because they do no have enough prescription drugs, while the causes of their diseases are being ignored.

    The records are there, so get to the Kupuna with healthy things, not after the fact drug therapy. before the virus gets to them. That’s reasonable.

    Mahalo


    1. Twixt August 25, 2020 1:56 pm Reply

      So, you went out and caught this on purpose, did you?


  4. Fanon August 24, 2020 10:13 am Reply

    When you stop to think about it, all disease testing, whether to be for Covid19 virus, or anything else, like blood pressure, blood glucose diabetic test, urine samples, or x-ray.or MRI; all these tests are for is to find something wrong so you can be sold a treatment by prescription drugs or even surgery.

    Where’s the prevention in that ?

    The medical system has slid down the path to only treatment after you are sick. And while the pharmaceutical / medical world cannot make money without disease, the obvious better course for Health is daily effort, study, and action at ones Health.

    Why is Health ignored, we know the strength of each individual gives them resistance to disease, and Covid19 proves that’s true and why so many people prove it more by testing Covid19 positive but not getting sick.

    It’s called strength of the host. The host is each person. We should invest our money and time on strengthening our Health, and not so much on tests and drugs and surgery, and then we won’t have to pay so much for insurance, and enjoy life more and live healthier active longer lives.


    1. Ipub August 25, 2020 1:57 pm Reply

      Testing to see if someone is sick helps prevent others from contracting it if the sick person can then take precautions against spreading. There’s your prevention.


  5. randy kansas August 24, 2020 11:52 am Reply

    on Friday the Federal CDC (center for disease control) dropped their recommendation for the 14 day quarantine policy…time to follow the science…..


    1. Mark Walsh August 24, 2020 1:17 pm Reply

      Did I understand you correctly the cdc is dropping the mandatory quarantine for Hawaii?


      1. Kauai August 25, 2020 7:56 am Reply

        Yes, THE CDC Dropped the 14 day quarantine. HAWAII I sure with the HORRIBLE CORRUPT CHINA EMPLOYEE leadership we have in Hawaii will not go with CDC they will choose with the LIBS DEMS. to only go with the Recommendations of the WHO (World Health Organization) which is controlled by China and Bill Gates . This is no longer about COVID this is all about controlling us and destroying AMERICA. I truly hope when the election come you remember what IGE, HIRONO, LT GOV GREEN, TULSI, AOME MAYORS have done with scare tactics and cause fear basically caring only about the POWER AND CONTROL they have over HAWAII People and they want to keep it. They all have lied other states are completely open everything and going on with life as usual, THOSE of us living in a DEM/BLUE STATE are living in uncertainty. I PRAY people start to she this people for who they really are amd they are not for WE THE PEOPLE. Respect and Aloha


        1. Aina August 25, 2020 1:58 pm Reply

          Respect and Aloha… Good thing you added that at the end, because all I read was racism and hate.


    2. Lawaibob August 24, 2020 9:43 pm Reply

      BS


    3. kandy rancid August 25, 2020 1:59 pm Reply

      Prove it.


  6. Trace August 24, 2020 8:27 pm Reply

    Randy yes it’s on media coming from CDC as source, they are now not for 2 week quarantine whether international or USA travel. Of course if you are with someone who is sick from Covid19 it is best to still quarantine yourself for the 2 weeks.

    With all the spiking apparently all the masking, 6’, and hand wringing and washing was not working, besides the 100’s of thousands testing positive but not sick but gaining immunity is making “science” change its mind.

    And saying people are getting lifetime side effects is a stretch of a lie being only a few months into the pandemic.

    What it turns out is there’s actually media-less pandemic every year, same routine of no symptoms, or only mild, and the deaths are of already sick people that the deaths preceded the covid19 and the virus only accompanied the death, as the world sees 60 million deaths a year along with worldwide flu.


  7. C Kim August 25, 2020 7:44 am Reply

    That,’s right !ark, many of the news outlets have covered the story already. You can google it.

    Other reversals on virus prevention are about staying indoors, stay at home, those have proved not so healthy,;new recommendations are all about being outdoors and doing active things as simple as walking and other exercise efforts as to actually promoting health.

    LIFE = MOTION.

    Proof = All Dead Things Don’t’ Move


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