Number of contact tracers increased to handle COVID surge

the PCR test is still the gold standard, however, this is lab-processed and the results don't come out until three days later. (PNC file photo by PNC Chief Photographer Allan Balbin)

GovGuam is increasing the number of contact tracers to cope with the surge in the number of COVID cases.

According to Annette Aguon, administrator for the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control, they started out with 6 contact tracers and 6 investigators which has since increased to 20 investigators and 24 contact tracers to address the latest surge in positive cases.

DPHSS is also in the process of getting 14 more tracers and investigators through an Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity grant, Aguon told the legislature’s health committee during an oversight hearing.

She assured committee head Sen. Therese Terlaje that they will have sufficient human resources to meet the need and catch up on the backlog from last month’s surge.

In addition, there are also plans to multiply contact tracing efforts through a recent training session at UOG in conjunction with UCSF which trained 85 individuals that can be utilized in the private sector and other government agencies.

They are also looking at a pilot project involving a team of 5 contact tracers at UOG to give some relief to their personnel, with plans to expand.

Dr. Suzanne Kaneshiro, Public Health Officer for the Division of Public Health, also advised that the department is using federal grants to open a new Bureau of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which will be fully staffed with contact tracers, nurses, and microbiologists.

Acting DPHSS Director Art San Agustin is hopeful that this bureau will be fully operational next year and for the long term.