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Contact tracing will be crucial this Thanksgiving

Many people don't answer calls from contact tracers because there have been some scams. Remember that a real contact tracer will never ask for any financial info.

BEAUMONT, Texas — Contract tracing will be crucial in containing the spread of coronavirus this holiday season. 

This means you have to answer the phone when tracers call, which is one of their biggest reported hurdles. 

Anyone traveling for the holidays should keep a list of the people they are around and all the places they go. Contract tracers said this could make all the difference in keeping cases down. 

Anyone traveling for the holidays should keep a list of the people they are around and the places they go. Contract tracers said this could make all the difference in keeping cases down. 

"Travel really is not a good idea during the holidays this year," Texas' School of Public Health Assistant Professor of Epidemiology Dr. Angela Clendenin said. 

Health officials are pleading with the public to keep their guard up. 

"But if you do travel, try to keep the number of people you come into contact with really small," she said. 

Looking at the numbers makes it easy to see why this is a challenge. 

In September, Governor Greg Abbott said a positivity rate above 10 percent was a warning flag. The positivity rate in Texas is now 12 percent. In Jefferson County, it's 16 percent, according to CovidActNow.org. 

To put things in perspective, New York, which was originally an epicenter of the virus, has a 3.9 percent positivity rate. 

"Everybody is kind of having pandemic fatigue," Dr. Clendenin said. "They're looking for opportunities to do something normal, and we're not there."

Those who plan to travel should keep a list with names and phone numbers of people you come into close contact with, she said. Anyone who gets a call from a contact tracer should answer the phone. 

"Just answer the phone, because it helps us learn more about the disease, it helps us be able to box COVID in so we can break that cycle of transmission," she said. 

After the holiday, if counties are concerned about an outbreak, they can request state-supported testing. 

Port Arthur Health Department spokesperson Judith Smith said they have already scheduled state testing at the Bob Bowers Civic Center in early December. 

"I want everybody to have a happy holiday, I want everybody to enjoy this break, but at the same time, I want everybody to be safe," Clendenin said. 

Many people don't answer calls from contact tracers because there have been some scams. Remember that a real contact tracer will never ask for any financial or specific insurance information. 

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