Chelan-Douglas health officer says it’s good news that contact tracing will now be done locally

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The Chelan-Douglas Health District said Thursday that local health care providers are taking over contact tracing of COVID-19 cases in the two counties.

That previously was being done by the state Department of Health.

The health district says the local tracing allows information to be received and acted upon more rapidly.

Chelan-Douglas Health Officer Dr. Malcolm Butler said in his weekly video Thursday that contact tracing is vital to slowing the spread of the virus.

“A lot of people don’t want to receive a phone call and be asked personal questions,” Butler said. “But remember, we’re in a pandemic. We’re trying to keep other people safe.”

Confluence Health, Cascade Medical Center and Columbia Valley Community Health have all agreed to take on contact tracing and investigations for the health district, Butler said.

He said anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus will be contacted with the result and advised how to keep themselves and others safe.

“And they’re also going to ask you who you think you may have gotten this from,” Butler said. “And if you’re willing to provide them a list of people who have been within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes … then we can reach out to those people also and advise them that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. And unless you give us your permission, we’re not going to tell them to whom they may have been exposed.”

Butler said it’s good news that tracing and investigation has been brought back locally and every effort will be made to keep people’s privacy protected.

“It’s no stranger from somewhere else calling asking you questions. We’re keeping it local. We’re keeping it close. Keeping it safe,” Butler said.