Contact tracers swamped as case numbers rise

Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 5:26 PM AKDT
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As the COVID-19 case numbers rise, more and more calls are being made by contact tracers to folks who could have potentially been exposed to COVID-19. According to one Anchorage woman who shared her experience, that's a call that can be pretty scary at first.

Sarah Schwicht said she got the call from a contact tracer over the holiday weekend. She said it came from an unknown number.

Schwicht said she actually had been told by a coworker that they had tested positive. The conversation with the tracer didn't reveal it was the same person as they didn't disclose identifying information.

She said she was at a small barbecue with that coworker recently.

"I was concerned that it was an additional person that I had been in contact with besides the original person that I had known because the cases have been increasing so greatly," she said.

From there, the tracer talked to her about how to proceed. This included monitoring symptoms and strongly suggesting that Schwicht stay home from work for a while.

Schwicht didn't want to disclose where she works, but she said it's a retail store that sells clothes and food.

When she told her employer what happened, she said it was relatively easy to take the time off, but she did need to take the time out of her vacation days.

"Making that decision was a little hard because that's a commitment to make to not go to work and not leave the house. So that was challenging, but I feel that it's my responsibility to do that," she said.

She talked about how the call gave her a sense of responsibility to those around her. Knowing she crossed paths with someone with coronavirus made her not want to be one of the many young and healthy people who unknowingly spread the disease to the most vulnerable.

Schwicht said she's been pretty cautious so far, but after getting the call from contact tracers, she said she plans to work a little harder at mitigation practices.

"I think that'll probably be the biggest change for me, is even in my very very limited social circle when I do spend time with people socially, I think I'll be wearing a mask then too. As miserable as that sounds," she said.

Schwicht said she did receive her test result back on the Fourth of July, and it came back negative. Now she plans to spend the week reading some new books and catching up on some shows in her Netflix and Hulu queues.

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