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Council approves funding to hire contact tracers

Almost $200,000 will go toward the hiring of five new staff for the St. Joseph Health Department, who will be charged with following up with people who have recently come in close contact with those who have tested positive for Covid-19.

Posted: Jun 29, 2020 10:50 PM
Updated: Jun 30, 2020 10:33 AM

(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.

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Tuesday we had overcast skies for much of the day across northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri until the afternoon when we cleared out across the area. We will see a few more clouds late tonight into tomorrow morning then have lots of sunshine along with hot and humid conditions.
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