Staffing shortage creates continued challenge for tracking COVID-19 cases in Sedgwick County

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 5:35 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - As COVID-19 cases are overall on the rise and more tests are being administered, health care communities struggle to keep up with the data.

Thursday (July 30), the Sedgwick County COVID-19 dashboard showed no new recoveries. That seemed odd, so Eyewitness News reached out to the county for an explanation. Sedgwick County Deputy City Manager Tim Kaufman said the county’s health department is struggling to keep up with the changing numbers.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we were staffed appropriately and we think we did a good job keep up. And then about halfway through, we have a big uptick in cases and we haven’t been able to stay on top of staffing,” Kaufman said.

On Friday (July 31), there were 13 new recoveries reported. Currently, about 15 people are in charge of making calls to people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to see if they have recovered. As of Friday there are more than 2,600 active cases in the county.

Kaufman said the staffing in place is not enough to track them all.

“We’ve got about 15 folks, they’re making those types of calls, and ideally we would maybe have twice as many,” he said. “Thirty would be nice at this point in time given the current rate of infection in the community.”

Although timelines of data in Sedgwick County may be behind, Kaufman said health department employees are making sure that data is accurate.

“The information will be accurate, it’s just a little bit of a challenge to be timely sometimes with that information,” he said.

If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and an epidemiologist contacts you, you can help the Sedgwikc County Health Department by answering the phone to let them know what progress you’ve made, or if you’re still feeling sick.

With the increase in cases, as well as testing, the Sedgwick County Health Department is hiring to meet the data-collecting demand. If you want to apply to help the county with efforts including contact tracing and keeping recovery numbers updated, you can do so on the county’s website.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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