How WKU is helping the Barren River District Health Department contact trace

The Barren River District Health Department sits in downtown Bowling Green on Jan. 18, 2021.

Leo Bertucci

WKU will join the Barren River District Health Department as a resource for COVID-19 contact tracing beginning this semester.

The health department stopped performing contact tracing for COVID-19 cases last November because an “overwhelming number of cases of COVID-19 caused a strain in resources.” According to a press release, WKU’s contact tracing partnership with the health department was announced last May.

Director of Environmental Health and Safety David Oliver said WKU staff members will serve as the university’s contact tracers. The new contact tracers will work in concert with the health department staff.

“We are performing initial contact tracing with the goal of getting folks into quarantine as soon as possible, both confirmed positive cases and close contacts,” Oliver said.

Oliver said WKU’s contact tracing efforts will supplement the work of the health department.

“When folks call the COVID assistance line, we can provide guidance and help facilitate their quarantine,” Oliver said. “Public health may take two to three days to initiate their tracing actions.”

Bob Skipper, director of media relations, said the health department is currently concentrating on tracking the number of positive cases in their service area. WKU provides a campus-related positive case count in its dashboard. The university updates the dashboard with new positive case data twice per week.

“We will continue to work closely with the health department on the positive cases and will take on a larger role with the contacts,” Skipper said.

Skipper said the health department believes it will not be able to provide WKU with positive case data that is specific to the university.

As of Jan. 15, WKU has reported 1,078 cases of COVID-19.

Leo Bertucci can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @leober2chee.