We’re drained, we’re exhausted’: On the front lines with first responders in Boston

Working around the clock, so-called “disease detectives” use contact tracing to track down suspected patients in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
2:36 | 04/21/20

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Transcript for We’re drained, we’re exhausted’: On the front lines with first responders in Boston
And even though the plateau has been reached in New York, elsewhere, they're still fighting the surge of this virus. We're with emts in Boston as that state prepares for the next they're using contact tracing. They've hired 1,000 disease detectives to track any new waves of this virus. We wonder tonight, how will it actually work? Here's will reeve from Boston tonight. Reporter: Tonight, Boston in the grips of the pandemic. We're with the first responders working around the clock, fanning out through the city. Answering call after call, many of the patients suspected to be sick with covid-19. Emts taking every precaution, scrubbing up in layers of ppe. The patient has been loaded into the ambulance, the emts disposed of their ppe, now they're headed to the hospital. This routine taking a toll on the first responders. There's no sugar-coating this stuff. We're drained. We're exhausted. Reporter: The death toll in Massachusetts nearing 2,000. With hospitals bracing for any surge, the state battling the virus on another front. We've got to do this right and we've got to respect the virus, big-time. Reporter: Fighting to stop the spread with a critical tool, 1,000 contact tracers, who call anyone who's tested positive so they can alert others who came within six feet of that person for more than 15 minutes. Those so-called disease detectives like Mia Williams in Kentucky are working the phones. It's like an emotional roller coaster in a way, because what you're trying to do is connect all these cases, and from connecting all of those cases, you're trying to prevent or control spread. We work for Salt Lake county health department. Reporter: In Salt Lake county, Utah, tracers have tracked 85% of the known cases there. Will, this contact tracing sounds probably like an overwhelming undertaking. These contact tracers in Massachusetts, they want to find anyone who has had close contact with people who have tested positive? Reporter: Yes, David. That close contact is defined as coming within six feet of someone for 15 minutes or more. So anyone who comes into that close contact with someone who has tested positive will be asked to self-isolate. The tracers have a lot ahead of them. The process starts out with phone calls to individuals. So far in Massachusetts, there have been over 41,000 confirmed cases. Anyone within six feet for 15 minutes or more.

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