With COVID-19 cases soaring, St. Louis contact tracing efforts struggle to keep up – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The federal relief money runs out at the end of the year. Next year, the county wants to have 90 new staff members devoted to COVID-19 action, which could consist of dispersing vaccines. Authorities forecast the cost to be almost $14.4 million, a 24% increase in the health departments budget plan.

The county also has actually utilized $600,000 in federal relief funds to hire St. Louis University to supply additional “booster” training for contact tracers, improve information collection and analysis and supply a cellphone app that personnel can use to more easily get info from favorable cases and their contacts.

Missouri, however, trained a 50-person team of existing state health department staff members to assist regional authorities and relied primarily on city and county health departments to lead the efforts.

Regional jurisdictions rushed to move from paper charts, upgrade computer systems, get federal stimulus funds, reshuffle workers from other public health activities, and employ and train new contact tracers. The effort continues as cases increase and the challenges change.
” Its not a best system,” Ave stated. “We typically state at the health department that were cruising the ship as were developing it.”
In January, the St. Louis County health department had 3 people and a spending plan of $3.16 million dedicated to communicable illness and contact tracing, officials stated in a current spending plan meeting. Now the county has about 140 short-term hires and 180 volunteers and is investing about $15 million a month, mainly federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act pandemic relief funds.