MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota added nearly 3,500 more positive COVID-19 tests on Tuesday- a new single day record.

With so many people to track lately, Minnesota’s Department of Health calls it a daunting task. Now, more people are coming forward to say their contact tracing didn’t happen as promised.

It was an asymptotic person at a birthday party last month that lead to Whendy Gass and her husband coming down with COVID-19.

“We could pretty much trace our contact and it was like Minnesota didn’t know or care,” Gass said. She had headaches and minor cold symptoms.

“He had more the body aches and more of the respiratory issues,” she added.

They took their tests in Slayton in southwest Minnesota and began their quarantine, awaiting their contact tracing call from MDH.

“We talked to somebody else who’d been at the same party and they had heard from the health department and we never did from the Minnesota Health Department,” Gass said.

Instead, nine days later, it was South Dakota’s Department of Health calling.

“She was clueless as to how we ended up on the South Dakota list,” she said.

On Monday’s COVID-19 briefing, MDH said there are currently 500 contact tracers.

“People are putting in a huge amount of work to reach out to all these cases,” Kris Ehresman with the MDH said.

But, as thousands test positive each day, there’s been a push to be more efficient. Ehresman said MDH looks at “the core information that we need to get from the interview and how can we increase our efficiency so that we get what we need to our response but we minimize the time spent on each individual situations.”

Another challenge? MDH says at least 30% of people are now reluctant to give details when they do call.

In Whendy Gass’s case, she was more than willing.

“It’s missing so many people,” she worried.

Due to privacy laws, an MDH spokesperson couldn’t provide specifics but said these cases may have defaulted to the location of the clinic since Gass lives about an hour from the South Dakota border.

MDH does not want people to call them if they haven’t heard from a contact tracer. The most important thing for people who test positive is to isolate; they can also reach out to their close contacts themselves.

A statement from South Dakota’s Department of Health reads:

“In rare situations, state residency is misreported, and in those situations, we work with the state of actual residence for any further action.  Delays in conducting initial investigations can be due to several reasons, including the need to locate accurate contact information and individuals not responding to our calls.”

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Liz Collin

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