(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- St. Joseph's city council approved funding of more than $192,000 for the hiring of new temporary staff for the St. Joseph Health Department on Monday.
Their passage of the proposal will now allow the health department to hire five new employees, whose only jobs will be contact tracing.
Health department staff have been stretched thin since the coronavirus pandemic began. They have been doing all contact tracing in-house. However, because the job is time intensive, they're needing more help.
"The shortest phone call we've had has been about 30 minutes, the longest is about an hour," said Debora Bradley, director of the St. Joseph Health Department
Buchanan County now has nearly 900 positive cases of the coronavirus. Bradley says during the shutdown and social distancing restrictions, her staff would need to make on average about three phone calls per positive case.
Since the city's reopening, she says that some of those who have newly tested positive have had up to 20 contacts.
Funds to hire the staff are coming from the federal Covid-19 CARES relief package. Staff will be hired to work until the end of the year.
Monday evening's meeting was the first council session where members met in-person in the council chambers since the Covid-19 pandemic began.