A spike in local coronavirus cases has county health officials revisiting the need for more workers to find out who those who have tested positive may have also infected.

Sacramento County reported confirmation of the largest number of new cases in a single day, 131, on June 23. Officials have pointed to family gatherings as the cause. There are also more opportunities to go out in public with more businesses reopening and despite a mandate from Gov. Gavin Newsom to wear face masks when going outside, with no real enforcement, many still don’t take that precaution.

“Sacramento County has seen a significant spike in positive cases the last week. Our contact tracing team is working hard to investigate every positive case and their activities over the last two weeks,” shared Dr. Olivia Kasirye, the County’s Public Health Officer.

Earlier, the County planned to hire some 225 new contact tracers, but eventually slowed that effort. The plan is once again in motion, with tracers set to be hired in bunches of 20-30 at a time. Sierra Health Foundation is being contracted to do the hiring.

As previously reported by The Sacramento OBSERVER, Sierra Health Foundation CEO Chet Hewitt had concerns about who would be hired, saying that it was important for Black people to be among those who would be making calls and asking questions of those in the Black community.
“For many communities, particularly communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted, we do have some community concerns about what the take-up rate is going to be when you send folks who are not of the community and trusted by community into communities to ask some pretty intrusive questions,” Hewitt said.

Dr. Kasirye addressed the cultural competency aspect.

“We are in the process of training additional contact tracers to try and meet the demand. Both our hiring practices and training take into consideration the great cultural and ethnic diversity we enjoy in Sacramento. Our goal, as always, is to build trust and protect public safety and our contact tracers play a large part in our mission,” she said.

By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer