Ricketts: ‘We didn’t do our job’ with recent virus-tracing

Ricketts: ‘We didn’t do our job’ with recent virus-tracing

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts acknowledged Friday that state officials should have moved more quickly to interview people who contracted the coronavirus in recent weeks so they could warn others who may have been exposed.

Ricketts said the recent surge in virus cases created a backlog of people who needed to be called, and officials within his administration didn’t add more workers to help with the extra workload.

“The simple answer is we didn’t do our job,” Ricketts said at a coronavirus news conference.

The state now has a backlog of 2,600 people who still need to contacted. Some people who tested positive recently have waited more than a week for one of the state’s “contract tracers” to ask where they’ve been and who they might have infected, part of a broader effort to slow the virus’ spread.

Ashley Newmyer, chief data strategist for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, said agency officials hope to work their way through the backlog by the end of next week. Newmyer said the state is adding more workers and will rely on a combination of state employees and private contractors to perform the service.

She said contract tracers will also ask fewer questions during their interviews to save time and reduce the backlog. They’ll also make just two attempts to contact infected people, down from the current five.

Meanwhile, more Nebraska cities are making moves to require faces coverings in public as the coronavirus outbreak worsens in the state and across the country.…

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