How contact tracing works in South Dakota

KELOLAND.com Original

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Schools are no exception when it comes to the contact tracing process in South Dakota.

The South Dakota Department of Health works with schools throughout the state. However, schools may learn that someone in their district has tested positive before the DOH is able to notify the school administration.

A case notification process starts with your health care provider sending in your test to a laboratory. Then the laboratory notifies your provider of the results. After that, your provider has to notify you before they notify the Department of Health.

Kim Malsam-Rysdon is South Dakota’s Secretary of the Department of Health. She says that process is how some schools will find out before the state.

Because of that, the department is working with schools to be proactive in letting people know if they were in close contact with someone who tested positive. Together, the department and some school districts have developed a template for letters.

These letters notify parents their child may be considered a close contact with the person who has the virus, but South Dakota’s DOH will call to confirm.

The state is up to 278 people working to make those calls investigating who people with COVID-19 have come in contact with. These people also notify residents in South Dakota if they’ve been in close contact with someone who has the virus.

South Dakota’s State Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton says the phone calls last between 10 to 20 minutes. As far as the number of calls per day, Clayton says it depends on how many tests were done and how long each phone calls last. Clayton says on an average day, workers can make around four phone calls an hour.

Malsam-Rysdon has repeatedly said notifications of close contact can be delayed if people don’t answer calls from the Department of Health.

When asked in an email what people should look for on their phones, DOH officials say most caller IDs will display as “State of South Dakota,” “South Dakota Department of Health,” or “SDDOH.”

If a person does not pick up, a message is left for the person to call the Department of Health back. 


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