Riveras was waiting for this phone call. And I was waiting. And I was waiting. But the call never came.
“I was shocked,” said Rivera, a nurse who has since recovered from her fight with the virus.
Despite allegations that Florida detects every case of Covid-19, a CNN survey found that Florida’s health authorities, now the country’s number one virus virus, often fail to detect contacts, and have long been considered key. tool for limiting an epidemic.
Florida set a record for most corona cases in the United States in one day on Saturday, with a total of 11,458, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and on Sunday, the state exceeded 200,000 Covid-19 cases.
Florida’s contact detection challenges are indicative of how difficult it is for states affected by Covid-19 to properly detect contacts, which is a challenge even under the best of conditions. The virus has so far reached states such as Florida that are apparently Heraklion tasked with locating any infected person and monitoring all their close contacts.
CNN spoke with 27 Floridians or family members who had positive results for Covid-19. Of those, only five said they had received a call from health authorities asking for their contacts.
There are concerns about locating contacts nationally, not just in Florida. In an interview in June, CNN asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, how he thought the contact detection was in the United States.
“I don’t think we’re doing very well,” he said.
What is contact detection?
Contact detection is a centuries-old practice and the basics have not changed much: Essentially, healthcare workers are asking infected people for a list of all the people they have come in contact with and possibly contagious. The employee then tells these contacts to quarantine and pay attention to the symptoms.
A spokesman for the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County sent a statement to CNN about locating contacts in her state.
“When the Ministry of Health receives a notification that a person has shown positive for COVID-19, the department conducts extensive epidemiological research in conjunction with [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to locate people who may have been in close contact with the virus. These individuals are then notified by the hospital in their province and instructed to isolate themselves 14 days after exposure to the virus and to contact the county health department and health care provider immediately if they experience symptoms. This procedure is followed for all people who have positive results in Florida “, Olga Connor wrote in the email.
The number of contact detectors in Florida is unclear
It is unclear how many contact trackers are being used by the state of Florida, as Health Department officials gave CNN two different numbers.
“More than 1,600 people, including students, epidemiologists and other staff from across the Department, are currently investigating every positive case of COVID-19 in Florida,” wrote Candy Sims, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health at Brow County. on CNN.
The department has pledged a private company to hire an additional 400 contact trackers, Sims added.
However, Alberto Moscoso, a spokesman for the health ministry, told CNN that Florida had 2,300 “people involved in detecting contacts”.
Sims and Moscoso did not answer CNN’s questions about the differences in their numbers.
“Immediately notify the people you have been in close contact with while you are sick,” according to the chart, noting that these contacts should then quarantine for 14 days.
Florida’s infographic doesn’t explain what to do if someone is positive about Covid-19, but has never shown any symptoms. According to the CDC, in this case, individuals should be notified if they have had close contact with the infected person two days before that person received the Covid test.
5 of the 27 Floridians received traces of contact
Of the 27 Floridians tested positive for Covid-19, five told CNN they had received a call from a health worker asking for their contacts.
Among the 27 cases, the early diagnosis was in February and the most recent was last week.
Riveras signed Covid in early March, when contact trackers had far less pressure than they do now. Shaila Rivera said a Miami-Dade County health ministry official called and asked questions about their illnesses, but did not ask for their contacts.
“We were surprised,” said Rivera, a pediatrician. “The whole conversation was less than a minute. There were no questions like who did you have contact with? Did you go to work? None of them.”
Eleven other people in their 27s said they, like Riveras, received calls from a Florida health worker but were not asked for their contacts.
David Pugh, who lives in Broward County, said he received such a phone call.
“I don’t know if we can rely on the state to do a thorough job. I think there are obviously flaws in the system,” he said.
Doubts about the usefulness of contact detection
Contact detection was carried out in the first case in the United States more than five months ago and there are several reasons why it could not contain the epidemic.
“How do you detect contacts when someone has no symptoms?” Fauci said in an interview with CNN. “The typical, classic example of identifying, isolating, detecting contacts doesn’t work no matter how good you are, because you don’t know who you’re watching.”
He also said that some are reluctant to talk to government officials.
“The dots are not connected because a lot is being done over the phone,” Fauci said. “Fifty percent of people because you come from a beginning don’t even want to talk to you.”
In addition to these problems, some experts question the usefulness of detecting contacts in areas such as Florida where cases are on the rise.
Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm urged Florida leaders to focus on other strategies, such as understanding where the virus is spreading.
With thousands of new cases a day in Florida, Osterholm doubted that contact detection would work.
“If Florida could get behind 50 to 100 cases a day, contact detection could be helpful. But now, it’s unlikely to have a measurable impact,” he said. “It’s like trying to put out a forest fire with a single fire truck. It just won’t hit.”