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Black Hawk County Public Health to resume contact tracing, hire additional staff

WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) -- As we head into the school year a big question is what happens if and when sometime tests positive for the virus?

Plans are in place but in 2020 we've all been learning as we go with the pandemic. Contract tracing is said to be invaluable for disease investigation and for county health officials it's not a new practice.

"Public health has been doing this so it's not because of COVID. So this is what we do, even for other infectious diseases," said Black Hawk County Public Health Director Dr. Nafissa Cisse Egbuonye.

In Black Hawk County the spring surge of COVID-19 strained the health department.

"We gave back contact tracing to the state, we were having some difficulties with just coordinating between us. I think it was just more a matter of a system," Egbuonye said.

Now, with school weeks away and cases holding in Iowa, Egbuonye hopes to be proactive.

"We are definitely going to be recruiting for contact tracers," Egbuonye said. "we're going to have liaisons for the different sectors so that they know who exactly is going to be that point person."

Then there's the concern of what if there's a positive case in a school.

"We do have designated staff to work on that contact tracing," said Dr. Jane Lindaman, Waterloo Community Schools' superintendent.

The school has a number of other plans to keep kids safe in their return to learn plans. They'll of course collaborate with the county health department.

Egbuonye says the best contact tracers are local.

"We know our community, we know how to navigate the different sectors, so that's what we do here at the local level," Egbuonye said.

It's not clear as to when those folks would come onboard.

The number they'll hire is dependent on the daily case reports and all you need is a high school diploma or GED. They'll be hired through the county.

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Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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