Allentown Health Bureau director says they can’t keep up with contact tracing for COVID amid spike in new cases

Written by on November 18, 2020

Allentown Health Bureau director says they can’t keep up with contact tracing for COVID amid spike in new cases

By Jen Rehill

November 18, 2020

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Allentown health officials say new COVID cases are growing so quickly that staff cannot keep up and need help with contact tracing. As WLVR’s Jen Rehill reports, this comes amid a record-breaking surge in new cases across the state.

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More than 1,800 people in Lehigh and Northampton counties have tested positive for coronavirus this week — and over 200 are in Allentown.

City health officials say that’s maxed out their ability to do contact tracing for those cases. 

So they’re asking people who test positive to do some of the work themselves — and get in touch with those who may have been exposed. 

Michael Huff directs contact tracing and testing for the state. He says it’s been overwhelming to keep up with the numbers and that time is of the essence.

“If communities are unable to effectively isolate patients and ensure contacts can separate themselves from others, then rapid community spread of COVID-19 is likely to increase to the point that strict mitigation strategies will again be needed to contain the virus,” said Huff.

Huff says the state has more than 16-contact tracers ready to be deployed for extra support. 

And he says he plans to look into Allentown’s situation himself

Pennsylvania reported more than 6,300 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the highest one-day total since the pandemic began.  

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