IUPUI contact tracers urge people to pick up the phone


INDIANAPOLIS – Contact tracers, the people responsible for letting you know if you’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, are facing challenges while working overtime to help track the spread of the virus in our community.

It’s one call after the next.

“People want to protect their friends, family and community,” said Izabella Robinson.

This is her way of helping during the pandemic. She’s a contact tracer and part of the IU COVID-19 team.

It’s her job to ask questions and help the students and staff on the other line.

“Sometimes people are going to unhappy, concerned, scared and so we need people who are going to be properly trained to deal with those responses,” she added.

For Robinson, it’s not that people are reluctant to give out information when she calls, but more they just aren’t willing to answer the phone.

“That’s our biggest issue is that people just don’t answer our phone calls, because no one wants to answer a random number anymore,” she said.

“It’s an absolutely critical piece to the strategy,” added Dr. Adrian Gardner. He’s an infectious disease physician and the director of the program for Indiana University.

He says for contact tracing to work, you need readily accessible testing and quick turnaround times.

“Once you get the numbers out of control, you’ve got a lot of transmission happening in the community then contact tracing can be overwhelmed,” he said, “You need to be able to get those results back in the hands of the contact tracing team in a relatively quick way so they can reach out and get people isolated or quarantined.”

Gardner says for contact tracing to be successful, there has to be a broader strategy. In his case, IU’s COVID-19 team is responsible for eight campuses and 15 different locations. People are stationed in Indianapolis and Bloomington to make calls.

“Contact tracing is really the last line of defense then to try and prevent cases from becoming multiple cases and outbreaks,” said Gardner.

“We provide a steam lined ability to make sure our community is kept safe,” Robinson added.

Again, health officials are asking you to answer your phone or respond to their messages if you get a call from a contact tracer. Click here to see what resources IU has provided to its students and staff.

Keep in mind, they do not ask for your social security number of banking information, so be aware of scammers.

Click here to access resources provided by the Indiana State Department of Health.

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