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Maricopa County’s coronavirus surge slowing contact tracing efforts

(Getty Images/Hector Vivas)

Phoenix — As coronavirus cases continue to soar in Maricopa County, public health officials have encountered roadblocks that are slowing the contact tracing process.

“With so many people getting tested, labs are taking longer to track and report all of the results back to public health,” Marcy Flanagan, the county’s public health executive director, said during a press conference on Wednesday.

“Public health can’t reach out to people until we know they are positive from the lab results.”

Nevertheless, Flanagan said her contact tracing team of 87 people is doing its best to keep up with those who have been diagnosed to learn who else they may have infected.

Flanagan added her team prioritizes infected people within health care or school settings — but not everyone gets contacted.

“Around 15% of the cases we get come without any contact information,” she explained. “And for 5-7% — we never get their contact information.

“Even after multiple attempts, we are never able to reach those individuals to give them their test results or find out who their contacts were.”

Flanagan also issued a warning for those who have been out and about in recent weeks — with or without a mask.

“With so many people in our community infected with COVID-19, and with many of them not experiencing symptoms or not knowing they have COVID, it is important that we all assume that we could be affected and exposed when we’re out in public,” Flanagan said.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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