Yesterday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced the deployment of a small army of contract tracers to ensure that the county can limit spikes in COVID-19 cases that, if not traced, could overwhelm the county’s healthcare system. These measures follow the Judge’s plans to continue the focus on testing, tracing and treatment as Harris County phases in more public activity and reignites its economy.
Epidemiologists and other medical experts at Harris County Public Health will complete training of 200 workers this week and another 100 by next week. Current and former top health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say contact tracing is an essential component to effectively controlling further outbreaks. Hidalgo stressed that the team of “disease detectives” are diverse members of the Harris County community. From college students to recently laid-off energy sector employees, the tracers will be communicating with their fellow neighbors to identify how the virus might be spreading so that the region can be smarter and more efficient about isolating risk.
Watch Judge Hidalgo’s announcement of the contact tracer program:
Judge Hidalgo has won praise for leading the effort in Harris County to limit the spread of COVID-19. A recent study conducted by Drexel University concludes that her orders issued as the chief emergency management officer for the county have saved an estimated 10,000 lives and avoided nearly 100,000 hospitalizations.
As the county moves from stay-at-home orders to engagement, Hidalgo stresses the need to remain vigilant and work together in order to successfully restart our economy: