Disease Detectives Doing Important Work to Stop Coronavirus

Disease Detectives Doing Important Work to Stop Coronavirus

Kitty Alvarado Connect


Governor Gavin Newsom is looking to recruit thousands of contact tracers who he says will play a pivotal role in containing COVID-19.

“These are simply disease detectives,” says Newsom during a news conference.

There are 80 contact tracers in Riverside County who are actively working to find people who have had close contact with a person infected with coronavirus.

“It’s very important our goal is stopping the spread that’s why we’re trying to identify as many people who have been exposed,” says Barbara Cole, RN, PHN, MSN, the director of disease control with the Riverside County Department of Public Health. 

Once they find them, they tell them they’ve been exposed, ask them a series of questions about their contact with the infected person, symptoms and most importantly get them tested and put them into quarantine.

“Which means we’re taking people who have been around someone who’s positive and asking them to stay home for 14 days and monitor for symptoms,” says Cole. 

If they are showing symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath and or test positive, then the process starts all over with them and search for their contacts.

But making it more difficult, some people can be infectious before they feel sick, and worse, there are those who never show symptoms at all,convincing them to stay home is tough.

“That makes it more of a challenge in terms of educating them that despite not having symptoms they could be shedding virus and exposing others,” says Cole.

The potential for spread from an infected person can be far reaching. The CDC says one person infected with coronavirus who attended a choir practice in Washington State led to 32 people infected, 20 potential cases and two deaths. That’s why tracking infected people down, those they’ve been in contact with is critical in containing the virus.

“Their job is essential part of our strategy to prevent transmission of coronavirus in our community,” says Cole.

The county is looking to hire 120 more contact tracers.

For more information about this job click here: Riverside County Contact Tracer Job

According to the CDC here are the list of symptoms:

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.