FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – COVID-19 cased are continuing to rise at the University of Arkansas and contact tracers are relying on students to help contain the spread of the virus.
The Arkansas Department of Health and UAMS have teamed up to conduct contact tracing on the U of A campus. This involves contacting students who have tested positive to ask who they’ve been in contact with since becoming infectious then calling those people asking them to quarantine to prevent further spread of the virus.
Despite the urgency to track these cases, the tracers are having a hard time getting students to cooperate.
“We can’t do the contact tracing unless we talk to every case so we can identify their contacts and quarantine them,” said Dr. Namvar Zohoori, Deputy State Officer of Arkansas Department of Health.
U of A spokesman, Mark Rushing, said when contact tracers call students, they suspect some aren’t answering because they don’t recognize the phone number.
“For any that are hesitant or may not recognize that number I urge them to go ahead and answer the phone talk to those contact tracers and that’ll help us in the long run,” he said.
Rushing also said he believes some students aren’t self-reporting and talking to contact tracers due to the stigma surrounding COVID-19 and/or the fear of repercussions. He is encouraging students that this is not the case and to comply with guidelines so the university and contact tracers can help.
“There really is no shame in getting covid its a communicable disease spread just like the flu I think nobody feels shame when they get the flu this is very similar to that,” Dr. Namvar Zohoori said.
Dr. Zohoori says the ADH has seen many students not reporting positive cases because of this stigma, but until students report their cases and then follow up with contact tracers, these cases will continue to rise.