Each day is unique, which is one reason why I enjoy this job. We upload all the COVID-19 cases that have been reported since the end of the previous day. I check each case to see if there is anything unusual or out of place about it. I make sure we have a team of investigators online and ready to start making calls. I support the team while they reach out to each case and all the campus-related people they may have exposed. I answer their questions and help guide their decisions. They are a very intelligent group of individuals, so that leaves me with time to develop more efficient processes and communicate with outside entities with whom we collaborate and support. There is always something to be working on.
Seeing public health policies in action is fascinating. I can see that between our contact tracing efforts—in conjunction with the local health department—and a largely compliant university community, we are slowing the spread of the virus. That feels good to all of us. Finding the epidemiological link between cases and working with other faculty and staff members to tighten up those holes has been rewarding.
I find the virus itself interesting. There are such varied responses to each person’s experience, whether they are infected or exposed. Unfortunately, it is a very determined virus and really good at what it is designed to do, which is to stay alive by being contagious and spreading. But we are smarter and we will beat it in the end.
The future will be amazing because we are learning so much. The development of the coronavirus vaccine in record time is incredible to me. That progress wouldn’t have moved so fast if there hadn’t been a pandemic. That technology will help us fight and control other existing viruses as well as novel ones. People are more aware of public health and its importance in our lives. Our public health work has been overlooked because of the lack of a crisis, which indicates that we are doing a great job.
I think we are all positively impacted in the way we will address our viral symptoms in the future. Gone are the days when people go to work and school with symptoms, when handshakes are given freely and when not washing your hands was routine for many. We are now more aware of each other, of how our choices impact others and of how we can make a difference in people’s lives by the simple choices we make each day. I am hoping for a more compassionate future.
—Page Checketts, Contact Tracing Manager, Division of Public Health