My COVID-19 Investigations Experience

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My COVID-19 Investigations Experience

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I work as a COVID-19 medical investigator for the Arizona county in which I live. The local COVID caseload continues to lessen here, but the local health department elected to extend our investigations and tracing contract through Jan 2022. I look forward to the day we have collectively worked this position into obsolescence.

On the one hand, I’m grateful to know I don’t need to find new employment in the next 60 days, but I also worry about this particular use of taxpayer dollars. The reality is that we call on about 50-70 new cases per day at the current time. For a local population of about 1.5 million in this area, that's incredibly low. For our current team of about 20 agents, that takes an hour of dedicated dialing because few patients are answering their phones. During the surge last fall and winter, we had more than 3k cases per day just in this county, and we struggled to get through 200-300 cases per day as a team; most patients answered our calls, listened to our advice and guidance, and asked fearful questions about what to expect and how to keep their families and children safe. No longer.

I think the public is excessively COVID-fatigued, and the reality for most people is NOT the horrific possibility that media coverage seems to have indicated as probable for everyone. The facts on the ground do not replicate those in the news, and I think most people have had COVID-19 or know (a lot) of people who have and survived with little more than a nuisance infection. The monster our societies were told to fear and expect didn’t come to fruition for most of the population, and few COVID patients with whom I speak feel uninformed, unprepared, or anxious about what lies ahead for them. Very few have concerns about protecting their families, at least that they express to me as a need for guidance, information, or uncertainty about their information or material needs or the future. All the social indicators seem to be that our local residents, at least, are ready to put this in the rearview and stop worrying about COVID.

On the plus side, it has been very encouraging here to see that traffic is pretty much back to normal on the streets. Shops and businesses seem to be consistently busy. Despite all the resumed “normalcy,” our 14-day case count continues to generally decline. Given the “Arizona variant” that’s supposed to be haunting us, I’ll take that as positive evidence that vaccinations and natural antibodies seem effective against mutations and strains.

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This item was submitted on April 14, 2021 by [anonymous user] using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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