Heartland health departments treat pandemic as a marathon

Heartland health departments treat pandemic as a marathon

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - A marathon, not a sprint, is how the director of the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center described dealing with the pandemic.

“It’s a day-in, day-out. It’s a constant thing,” said Jane Wernsman, Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center director.

According to Wernsman, it’s not about if a pandemic hits but when.

“We have had our ups and downs, and I think that in that marathon that I was talking about, we have kind of a relay team,” she said.

Wernsman said her team’s dedicated and works hard, sometimes seven days a week. They manage everything from contact tracing to data related to COVID-19.

“There is the human and the emotional side to it in that ya know we’re working, we’re dealing with individuals, people, their lives, their livelihoods,” said Wernsman.

“We try to help people out as much as possible and let them know that we are here to help them, but in order to help them, we also need help as well,” said Crystal Crim, Southern Seven Health Department contact tracing program secretary.

Crim calls people every day to talk about their COVID-19 diagnosis or being in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

“We can only help as much as other people are willing to help us. When we’re calling, we’re not trying to dig into your personal information, because that’s something we want to do. We’re trying to help you out,” said Crim.

As the number of positive cases grows, Wernsman said there aren’t enough hours in the day to reach out to every close contact like they did when the pandemic started. According to Crim, Southern Seven contact tracers are still able to reach out to all close contacts to a reported COVID-19 positive case.

“We will continue to monitor the situation daily. We’re here to serve,” she said.

The Southern Seven Health Department is hiring more contract tracers so they can help control the spread of the virus.

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