The North Bend Eagle


Teacher's summer spent tracing COVID

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 7/8/20

This summer Amber Beltrand is putting her Spanish skills to use and helping out in this time of the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic.

BeltrandAmber Beltrand uses her Spanish and her phone to help trace people exposed to COVID-19. During the school year she teaches Spanish at NBC.

Beltrand, the Spanish teacher at NBC, is working for Three Rivers Public Health Department as a contact tracer. A contact tracer talks to people diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus to see who they have been around and potentially may have exposed to the virus.

“It’s been interesting,” Beltrand said. “Most people are strangely willing to give the information to a stranger.”

Beltrand said first choice for contact tracers were people with a health degree. But as the population of those diagnosed with COVID-19 grew, so did the need for bilingual contact tracers. The health department that serves Dodge, Washington and Saunders counties sent e-mails to school superintendents seeking teachers who were bilingual.

Beltrand’s interview and training were conducted over the phone. There were on-line courses she had to take about how to trace people or situations, and cultural norms.

When a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, the health department is notified and it notifies the contact tracers.

“We get few details about each case,” Beltrand said. “Name, birth date, address, phone number. I get mostly Hispanics, depending on what comes through.”

During the calls the tracers focuses on two things.

1- When did you get sick? What are your symptoms? Where do you work? The final question puts them in a cluster for statistics. The tracer does not follow up with any work contacts.

2 - Two days before you had symptoms who were you in prolonged contact with? Family members, neighbors, others who were with the ill person for an extended period of time.

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