Madera County switches to new COVID-19 contact tracing system

Local News

The new CalCONNECT system will help bring all information for each COVID-19 case into one spot

MADERA, California (KSEE) — To get a better handle on its COVID-19 cases, Madera County got a new data collection system with the goal of streamlining their investigations for each patient.

The Madera County Department of Public Health started the transition to CalCONNECT on Thursday. It was developed by the state at the request of several county health departments, according to Sara Bosse, MCDPH’s director.

Earlier this week, the state put Madera County on its COVID-19 watch list for the rise in positive cases. Since June 26, the county has on average seen a daily increase of 34 cases. The highest increase happened on July 5, where 75 new cases were reported.

Bosse said social gatherings are to blame.

“Particularly with friends and families in their homes, that’s where we’re seeing an alarming number of our cases being transmitted,” she said. “It’s a familiar environment, so people tend to take off their face coverings, get closer, even share food.”

The influx of cases have made it harder for MCDPH’s contact tracing teams. Bosse said a big obstacle has been where each patients’ data has been recorded, saying contact tracers would sometimes have to refer to as many as four databases for each patient.

The reason behind that is because the information is coming from a variety of sources, including labs and doctors’ offices.

“It was easier to utilize when we had a fewer number of cases,” Bosse said.

But, with CalCONNECT, all of the information is being put into just one database. With a patient’s information easier to find, Bosse said it helps the department get to the close contact identification stage quicker.

In turn, she said their information should be more accurate as they continue to use this new system.

“[CalCONNECT] makes it far easier for us to focus on the real work of paying attention to people — those conversations that we’re having in our contact investigations,” Bosse said. “Instead of the mechanics of data and that kind of thing.”

Bosse also has some reminders for those who do get contacted by contact tracers, especially with scams being reported around the state:

  • Contact tracers will never ask for financial information, like bank account information or your salary.
  • Contact tracers will never ask for money.
  • Contact tracers will never ask for your Social Security Number.

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