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From One To 13 - How Mariposa County Tracked The Contacts Of Its First Coronavirus Patient


Mariposa County confirmed its first coronavirus case last Tuesday. Within two days, the total number jumped to 13. Despite the rapid increase, county officials said they’re containing the spread using contact tracing.

Health Director Dr. Eric Sergienko said his department was ready to act when the first case showed up. Within 24 hours, a team of two nurses and three sheriff’s detectives tracked down more than 20 people, all of whom had been in contact with the first patient when she was contagious. Twelve of them had the virus.

“It validates our ability to do contact tracing,” said Sergeinko. “We were able to, at this point, nip off a chain of transmission before it spread into the community.”

The contacts they found were tested and told to isolate at home, even if they didn’t have symptoms. Sergienko said without law enforcement, the department couldn’t have tracked down the individuals so quickly. 

“Your average police officer or sheriff’s deputy comes with a vehicle and radio communications and all those things that allow them to go find those contacts,” said Sergienko.

As of Tuesday, only one person has been hospitalized. The rest are recovering at home.

Sergienko hopes the county can keep relying on contract tracing to protect the community.

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.
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