Republic, Mo. gymnastics center says it wasn’t notified of positive COVID-19 case for 8 days; health department explains process

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 5:17 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 16, 2020 at 6:28 PM CDT
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REPUBLIC, Mo. (KY3) - One of the directors of Gold Medal Gym, Emily Messenger, says she was contacted eight days after a member tested positive for the coronavirus and potentially exposed seven others in a gymnastics class.

Messenger says the Springfield-Greene County Health Department told her it had to be the one to contact the potential exposures because contact tracers needed to provide the proper guidelines on how to quarantine.

“We emailed them all the names and contacts and assumed they would be taking care of it," Messenger says.

Two parents then told Messenger they were never told their kids were supposed to be in quarantine.

“A parent came up to me and said they were called by the health department and the health department just wanted to know how their quarantine went," Messenger says. "Another parent contacted me and said that the health department called them on the 14th day and told them they needed to quarantine for the next six hours because they were exposed 14 days ago.”

Cara Erwin with the health department says it’s recommended that businesses share information about possible exposures with anyone who may have been in contact with that positive case.

“We don’t want you to reveal any personal information when you do that," Erwin says. "You certainly shouldn’t share with that individual the name of the positive or specific circumstances on when and where the circumstances occurred, but you can generally notify them that they believed they have been exposed and that they can go ahead and quarantine.”

Last month, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department hired a company to expand its contact tracing. Although this doesn’t change the time period it takes to get all of the information. The health department says it has to wait for someone to get their positive results, then do the interview with that person before passing that information on to the contact tracer.

“You can see how even though everybody is doing everything exactly right, there’s still a delay," Erwin says. "It’s just the nature of what we’re dealing with and so that’s why from the beginning we have always encouraged people to not wait for a call from us.”

The health department says expanding its contact tracing has helped. It says the partnership with Maximus allows it to reach 1,000 more people than it might otherwise have been able to reach.

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