ADPH looking to increase number of COVID-19 case investigators for K-12 schools

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – More Alabama school systems are welcoming students back to their classrooms this week.

A few North Alabama schools have already had students test positive, some even temporarily closed their doors.

But the Alabama Department of Public Health said they have people monitoring those situations. They’re called case investigators.

“These are experienced public health professionals,” explained Dr. Karen Landers with ADPH. “Those persons we have leading this in North Alabama actually have many years of experience. They have a vast wealth of experience of case investigations and contact tracing outside of the Alabama Department of Public Health’s response to COVID.”

But according to ADPH toolkit for schools, there are only two case investigators covering the northern district of Alabama’s 12 counties.

News 19 Investigative Reporter Dallas Parker asked Landers whether the two investigators were sustaining, and if the department is planning to hire additional help for them.

Landers said ADPH is actively looking to expand its roster of case investigators.

“Well we have long planned in COVID-19 to have each district to have investigative teams that would not only have registered nursing personnel, but other additional investigative personnel on these teams,” Landers explained. “So it’s really been a matter of having persons be on the merit-system registry and state registry for hiring.”

Right now, Landers says the case investigators work remotely, but school reports play a major role in case management.

“Currently all of the investigations are done either by phone, or by computer access,” she added.

Landers said investigators are able to gather everything they need without being present in the schools. ADPH said that way they can follow social distancing guidelines like everyone else.

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