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Contact tracing important for controlling COVID-19 spikes, Khaldun says

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun at a news conference with Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

As Michigan begins to reopen, some counties have seen spikes in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. Some people are worried that these recent spikes will send the state back into a shutdown before the summer is over. 

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun is Michigan’s chief medical executive. She says the state’s contact tracing efforts show that more and more people are out and about and coming into contact with other individuals.

“What we’ve seen over the past several weeks is that for every case of COVID-19, whereas they used to have only three close contacts, now every case that we’re investigating across the state has four contacts,” she told Stateside.

She says contact tracing is especially important in controlling outbreaks of the virus. That's the process of calling people with COVID-19 and getting information about symptoms and who they’ve been in contact with. Dr. Khaldun says that the biggest challenges with contact tracing haven’t been staff-related, but have been with getting people to pick up the phone and accurately report symptoms.


Recently, the state has seen some spikes of COVID-19 in rural areas, like Oceana County in the northwestern part of the state. 


“People are not immune, regardless of where they live. Especially in our more rural areas, we’re even more concerned because we know hospital capacity is also not as great as it is in Southeast Michigan, so it’s something we have to watch very closely.”


Something that Dr. Khaldun said was particularly concerning was seeing images of large crowds gathering over the Fourth of July. She says state health officials will be monitoring the data in the coming weeks, and that it will be “not surprising” if COVID outbreaks related to the holiday weekend crowds occur.


To hear the full Stateside conversation with Dr. Khaldun, listen to the audio file above.


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