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Broward Plans On At Least 750 COVID-19 Contact Tracers

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Broward leaders announced Friday they have a plan go have more than 750 COVID-19 contact tracers.

Contact tracers investigate where a person got the virus and who may have been exposed.

State Rep Shevrin Jones, in the southeastern part of the county, says he got a call a day after he tested positive at the beginning of the month.

"When I did get the phone call, the contact tracer, I kid you not, you can tell she wasn't trained. You can tell she was reading off of a questionnaire, and as she was reading off of that questionnaire, she didn't know what follow up questions to ask," Jones said.

The lawmaker says the call was even disconnected and his phone didn't ring again. After expressing his frustration on Twitter, an epidemiologist got on the phone with him.

"I can only imagine what's happening to other people if they are even called. I know people who have coronavirus and who have not received a call from the department,"Jones said.

The state didn't respond to our questions.

South Florida is seeing an increase in people testing. But the positivity rates show the virus is spreading more.

Currently, Broward has 150 tracers making phone calls to investigate.

Thursday alone, the county added 1,600 new cases and 15% of the results that came back Thursday, were positive.

The Federal CARES act is funding an additional 167 workers to make calls in Broward. The state will pay for 450 more in the county. That'll bring the total to 767 tracers in Broward.

"It's a fairly simple interview where they may ask who do you live with and who have you been in contact with and that's pretty much the extent of it," Dr. Jacqueline Evans said.

Evans is a phycology professor at Florida International University. She is researching ways to improve the contact tracing program.

"You need to ask people a question more than once and in more than one way. So, for example I might ask you 'who do you live with but then I also want to know 'who did you have contact with at social events?' And 'who did you have contact with at work?'," Evans said.

She's also researching to see if the program can work online and how to ask the right questions to children and seniors to help them remember where they were and who've they've been around.

Broward Mayor Dale Holness has a reminder and a demonstration on what to do to slow the spread.

"Science says put on your facial covering, social distance yourself from others. Wash your hands frequently. Don't touch your eyes, ears, and nose. That's as simple as it gets," he said.

The contact tracers will all be working out of the War Memorial Auditorium near US-1 and Sunrise Blvd for now until a county facility is ready.

The mayor says more than half of the people contacted so far say they got the virus from a gathering at home.

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