Text Nebraska: New digital contact tracing method features 844 phone number
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The onset of the omicron variant has forced healthcare professionals into emergency mode as COVID-19 infections spread at a rapid-fire pace.
Doctors say anything to curb the spread will help, but preventing new infections would preserve public safety, and give everyone some reprieve.
From hospital systems to restaurants and schools, everyone is feeling the effects of staffing shortages, and Douglas County Health Department personnel believe the latest resource from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services will help keep the community safer.
That resource, called Text Nebraska, is an automated case investigation service that sends a survey out to people who have tested positive for the virus.
“It allows the person to not only report to us and identify contacts, but then provides them with the accurate information about how to isolate if they’re sick and how their contacts should quarantine if they need to do that,” said Justin Frederick, the Supervisor of Communicable Disease Epidemiology for Douglas County Health Dept.
HOW IT WORKS
Once the health department gets notification of a positive lab report, the service sends a text message from 844-774-7604 to the person who tested positive.
That person then has 24 hours to begin the survey in the message, which asks you to provide details about where you’ve traveled and who you may have been around. It also has an option to provide the name and contact information for those people.
The department will then send the survey to the people who may have been exposed and give them directions on how they should proceed.
Frederick said it takes the guessing and panic out of contact tracing, giving people the correct tools to stay safe. ”If a person’s been exposed, and they’re vaccinated, CDC says they can continue to work as long as they wear a mask. If they’re unvaccinated, then they need to quarantine for five days.”
Douglas County Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse said Thursday that “Text Nebraska is the next step in contact tracing, and this is where you can help,” adding “Your response is needed as the number of cases makes it impossible for our staff to keep up with the demand.”
Text Nebraska is available in English and Spanish to all Nebraska residents ages 19 and older.
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