Contact tracer: A difficult and thankless job

Contact tracers are one of the keys to keeping COVID in check in Michigan. But those who do the job say it can be "horrible."

The contact tracer’s job is a difficult one. As soon as someone tests positive for COVID-19 in Michigan they spring to action, tracking down everyone the subject has had contact with in order to contain the spread.

That difficulty is made worse by people who lie to them, get angry, or just ignore them completely.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

A weekday morning email roundup of Kalamazoo stories and events.

“It can be great, and it can be horrible,” said Sue Leeson, who oversees contact tracing efforts in Isabella County, in an article in Bridge Magazine.

The political environment is one of the factors making their job harder. Misinformation and conspiracy theories lead some to be suspicious of anyone asking about COVID-19.

“You can tell those who are going to cooperate and those who are not,” said Leeson. “Sometimes, they flat out lie and say they haven’t been out of the house, but you see it right there on their social media.”

Some people are also worried about being seen as a snitch.

Young adults, in particular, are more likely to ignore rules such as a mask wearing or social distancing, and more likely to not want to out their friends to the authorities.

Health officials insist their conversations are confidential and any names will be followed-up on anonymously.

You can read the full story here.

The average story costs NowKalamazoo $400 to produce. Donate to fund stories like this.