Washington struggles with contact tracing

VIDEO: Washington's struggle with contact tracing

The Washington State Department of Health reported contact tracers are struggling to get information from people who tested positive for COVID-19.

In the week of Aug. 30, new data released by the DOH shows that of the 217 cases investigated, only 53 close contacts were identified, which is fewer than one contact per case.

“Many people with COVID-19 who we interview are not willing to reveal the names of their close contacts to public health,” said Washington State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy.

Content Continues Below

Seattle resident Ian Graham understands why some may be hesitant about sharing personal information with the health department.

“We live in the digital age where all that stuff is everywhere, and I wouldn’t want to give out my information until I had a good reason,” he said.

Conrad Torres works in Seattle. He wouldn’t respond to contact tracers at all because he believes that the people who tested positive should be the ones making calls.

“I don’t believe you should share anything with the government,” Torres said. “I would tell you, ‘Hey, dude. I tested positive. Go have yourself checked if you need to.’”

Health officials said contact tracing is a critical step in curbing the spread of COVID-19. They’re begging people to pick up the phone because they say it can help save lives.

“The participation from the public is really critical to our success,” Lofy said.

Washington state will pilot a new technology that will anonymously notify users if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.