An estimated 100 to 200 nurses in Montana are tracing contacts of lab confirmed COVID-19 patients in an effort to contain the novel coronavirus.
In response to a recorrequest submitted by NPR, the state health department says county and tribal public health agencies oversee the time intensive work. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services assists and has 10 staff working with local jurisdictions.
The department says it’s surveying counties and tribes this week to get a more specific number of contact tracing nurses.
Many rural counties in Montana employ a single public health nurse. Some have staffed up by hiring retired health officials and nursing students.
Nurses initiate contact tracing investigations after someone tests positive for the COVID-19 illness to find out everyone that positive case spent time with in the past two weeks. The lab confirmed patient is told to self isolate and contacts are asked to self-quarantine to prevent further transmission of the illness.
National health officials have said states need to drastically increase contact tracing capacity as stay at home orders lift and people return to work.