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Davis, California

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Current surge makes COVID-19 contact tracing more difficult in Yolo County

Both contact tracing and tracking COVID-19 deaths help to inform Yolo County public health guidelines 

Although contact tracing can be a useful tool for identifying and contacting people who might have been infected with COVID-19, local officials explain that current California contact tracing databases are experiencing difficulty in keeping up with the current surge. 

A UC Davis Health information page detailed that contact tracing could be used to identify “[…] where there might be an increased risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.” 

Yolo County Public Information Officer Jenny Tan explained that while the county uses contact tracing as a resource for fighting the spread of COVID-19, the data is often incomplete and difficult to obtain.  

“We are doing contact tracing, we are definitely looking at where these people are working, or what they’ve done, but it’s hard to know exactly where someone got COVID-19,” Tan said. “It’s hard for a person to say sometimes, if they’re going to work, or if they went to a gathering. Plus, the data that we get from the state [databases] is often incomplete. There’s only a few questions that are mandatory in contact tracing, so a lot of people will choose to say that they don’t want to say or they don’t know.”  

Tan also said that the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE) system is another issue, as it was never designed to handle the scale of data being added. Tan also described that many areas have multiple local sources of data, with varying programs and clinics administering different kinds of tests, which contribute to the lack of transparency.   

“One of the issues is that the CalREDIE system, which is the state system, was not intended to be used at such a level,” Tan said. “It was a program that was available when COVID-19 first started. We’re adding thousands of data points—if not millions—statewide, to this system every day. So there are issues that come out from that, plus there’s so many different ways that we can get data, spreadsheets and things like that.”

In addition to contact tracing, Yolo County is also counting COVID-19 deaths in order to track the spread of the virus. Yolo County Chief Deputy Coroner Gina Moya stated via email that COVID-19 deaths are reported to the Yolo County Public Health Office.  

Yolo County District 4 Supervisor Jim Provenza explained via email that all available data is considered in making local public health guidelines.  

“All information received by the county is made available to the Board to help us formulate policy,” Provenza said.  “For example, we have focused upon large gatherings in our prevention efforts because outbreaks have been traced to private parties and other gatherings of household members who are not related. Tracing is now more difficult because of the current surge of cases.”

Written by: Rachel Shey — city@theaggie.org


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