Ohio River Valley Contact Tracers Serve from Home During Pandemic

In public health, contact tracing is a key strategy to contain a virus. Until we have a vaccine, contact tracing is a way to fight the COVID-19 virus.

The Ohio Department of Health needs more contact tracers to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In the Ohio River Valley District, clergy and laity have partnered with the Hamilton County Health Department to be trained for this role.

Interim health commissioner Greg Kesterman and the Rev. David Meredith discussed the need for contact tracers as businesses begin to open and more people interact.

Meredith noted that Kesterman "was quite energized by the idea we could expand the pool of contact tracers in Hamilton County by being able to provide some volunteers from United Methodist circles."

Contract tracers must be able to volunteer one hour per day, six days a week to pursue their assigned case. Hamilton County will provide a phone and phone number. All interaction is by phone, with no door-to-door visits.

"If one person had 15 social contacts," Meredith said, "and we can get those 15 persons through contact tracing to quarantine, that is an exponential good. And for us as United Methodists, choosing life in this practical way joins spiritual with public good. It is our core and is essential DNA for us as Wesleyans."

Nancy Newton, district office administrator, said she learned how one person can help in so many ways. "It could be a beneficial thing for a contactee to have a person ... checking in with them daily," she said, "just to feel loved. We don't know what their home situation is. They could be all alone, and you can be one of the only people they talk to."

To learn more about the Ohio River Valley's efforts with contact tracing, click here to visit the Facebook page.

By Amy Graham, Communications Specialist