TN lawmaker: Highest daily total of new TN COVID19 cases shows need for more contact tracing


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — With Tennessee’s largest one day figure for new COVID-19 cases recorded Friday, some are saying there should be more contact tracing to discover where those who tested positive picked up the virus.

“We are supposed to have far more people involved in tracking COVID19,” says Tennessee House Democrat Caucus Chair Mike Stewart.

Its been a re-occurring cry from Rep. Stewart nearly since the pandemic began.

He cites data from national groups representing cities and counties tracking COVID-19.

“Experts say we need 2000 people who would act as contact tracers to track the coronavirus,” said Rep. Stewart today in a video conference.

Contact tracers talk to those who test positive to find out where the infected person has been and who they have been around to help find out how the virus was contracted.

State commissioner of health Dr. Lisa Piercey this week said there are about 700 contact tracers in Tennessee, but she says there is now a lot unknown with COVID-19 cases.

“Now, exactly 50 percent of cases are from an unknown source. I will repeat that again. Half of all infections, people don’t know where they got infected,” said the commissioner during Gov. Bill Lee’s COVID-19 briefing Tuesday.

Dr. Piercey called that “not surprising as people are moving about in the community and then come into contact with people who are sick.”

She adds it’s all the more reason to wear a mask in public, wash your hands, and maintain proper social distancing of at least six feet.

Others like Rep. Stewart say it shows a need for more contact tracers.

In May, the health department said it had 350 contact tracers working statewide before doubling that figure this month.

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