HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Employees with the Virginia Department of Health are working to investigate COVID-19 cases and help our community better understand how we are being impacted.
When the coronavirus hit Hampton Roads, people were scared, especially when the first cases came to light.
Lisa Engle is an epidemiologist with the Virginia Department of Health in Chesapeake. She said she interviewed the first cases in her state.
She said the person she interviewed was extremely sick and could barely breathe, but has since recovered.
Engle helps lead the contact tracing workers in the region. She provides guidance as they work to gather information so experts can better understand how COVID-19 is impacting the state.
She said at first, it was easy to gather the information from people, as they were responsive and the coronavirus was new to so many.
But she says recently, people haven’t been as forthcoming with information about COVID-19. She believes this is due to information being passed around on the internet.
“It's shocking to me how social media has made people turn to a different way and think that we're invading their privacy when all we're trying to do is help,” Engle said.
Now the VDH is looking to hire more contact tracers. It’s not a new position, and in the past they’d be used for tracking STDs, salmonella or other diseases.
They work to gather information from people who have been exposed or have tested positive to a disease.
Contact tracers with the VDH say as Virginia continues to ease restrictions, gathering this information becomes even more important as they try to educate people, find communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and track the progress of the outbreak.