Leading Reopening Efforts During a Pandemic
Clark County, Washington was faced with one of the Northwest area’s biggest COVID-19 outbreaks at a local fruit packing plant. PHI with the Oregon Public Health Institute immediately went to work, and within a week our Tracing Health contact tracing program had cleared more than 100 employees to return to work at the plant.
100+ employees cleared to return to work within one week of PHI starting its contact tracing efforts.
Communicable Disease Prevention
Emily Henke, MPH, BA
During the COVID-19 pandemic, PHI’s “Tracing Health” contact tracing initiative, working with the Oregon Public Health Institute, launched and scaled quickly to support reopening efforts beginning in Oregon and Washington. Contact tracing helps locate community members who may need support and information to help them stay at home and to slow transmission, and help counties assess their readiness to re-open.
Clark County, Washington was faced with one of the Northwest area’s biggest COVID-19 outbreaks at the Firestone Pacific Foods frozen fruit packing facility, which had reported 79 employees testing positive for the virus.
PHI immediately went to work on the Clark County contact notification project. By Friday June 5—just one week after receiving the contract from the County—Tracing Health had cleared more than 100 employees at Firestone to return to work. Tracing Health achieved an 85% contact rate from the Firestone cluster—a success rate which allowed Clark Country to control the outbreak’s spread and gave its 500,000 residents the ability to move to Phase II reopening.
“Our experience with PHI has exceeded our expectations. PHI immediately provided assistance, and as a result, we were able to control the (Firestone) outbreak and keep it from spreading further into our community. PHI provides services in multiple languages, they respect diversity and understand how the social determinants of health affect morbidity and mortality from COVID-19.”
– Alan Melnick, Public Health Director and Clark County Health Officer
The Tracing Health program model involves small teams of contact tracers each working with a Resource Coordinator who can provide patients in need and/or people in isolation or quarantine with connections to food banks, mental health services, visiting nurses, and other community programs. The model is designed to be quickly scalable and able to pivot to hotspots.
For more information on the launch of the Tracing Health program, see the press release here.
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