‘COVID apathy’: Epidemiologist warns of people becoming reluctant to contact trace

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — One of the key tools used for more than a year to help stop the spread of COVID-19 is contact tracing.

But as people begin to get vaccinated and the world starts returning to normal, some healthcare workers say people are becoming less receptive to sharing key information.

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Alana Sulka, an Epidemiologist with the Gwinnett County Health Department who overseas their contact tracing team, says her team is responsible for getting that key information. Anytime a person tests positive, Sulka and her team reach out to find out who they’ve been around or who else may have been exposed.

She says last year, people were much more receptive to the questions, but recently it’s becoming more difficult.

“Many of them express that they don’t want to have their family member or their friends impacted by the quarantine that’s going to be put in place,” she said.

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Sulka says it’s almost a COVID apathy. She believes people are tired of restrictions and guidelines, but she stresses to people that being open and sharing information about contacts can make a big difference in the spread.

“Generally, we feel if you can convince somebody that disease control measures are important to protect the people they love, they’re more apt to follow that,” she said.

She says even if people they call won’t share names, they urge them to share the information with them.

“We really put the ownness of them and implore them, ‘Please educate the people that you’ve been around,’” Sulka said.

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