Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson questioned says testing for coronavirus is so backlogged that people are past their quarantine periods before they even receive results.
“Public Health is so far back on contact tracing they don’t even contact folks anymore,” he said.
During Monday’s special Board of Supervisors meeting, Mohave County Public Health Director Denise Burley told Johnson that her department’s role is “to follow up with people once we receive a case confirmation from the lab.”
Some results are taking as long as 20 days after the test was conducted, after people had already finished their isolation time. At the same time, Burley recognized the importance of still following up with those people when possible.
“With the extra bodies that we’ve given you, I’m curious if we are not able to follow up in a timely manner,” Johnson asked.
Then he asked what exactly the county epidemiologists are doing.
“Epidemiologists receive all of our cases through MEDSIS,” Burley said, referring to a state infectious disease tracking data system. “They review all the information, they along with nurses are doing case investigations, they are following up with long-term care facilities, ... they are ensuring all the documentation is there.”
Burley listed other tasks including entering information into the system, assigning cases to different staff to make sure there is a follow up, and providing data for reports and the media. Additionally, temporary epidemiologist Mary Schumacher is leading the effort when it comes to teaching investigative techniques, Burley said.
New County Manager Sam Elters added that the county approved 12 investigative positions and expressed hope that “with 12 in hand” things can improve. He added the plan is to assign 10 or 11 people to work with current cases and complete the investigation on time, with one person going back in time and tracing old cases for the record.
Burley added that two new investigators started this week and one more is being interviewed. There’s also an interview with a public health nurse scheduled, which made Burley hopeful that at least one of four open positions can be filled, she said.
She also mentioned that some MCDPH staff members are already working with local schools, educating staff before they open. Burley said she would like to see her staff do more “preventive type of work,” particularly reaching out to businesses to educate them on preventive measures.