AROUND OREGON: Tales of a contact tracer

If you live in Baker County and have tested positive for COVID-19, or spent much time close to someone who contracted the virus, there’s a good chance you’ve talked to LeAnne Bourne.

Bourne didn’t expect to spend dozens of hours on the telephone in 2020, asking Baker County residents whether they’d been feeling ill, and dispensing advice about quarantining.

But then almost nobody anticipated a pandemic.

“I’ve had to adjust to this; it’s a new part of the day,” Bourne said.

She has worked as the office manager for the Baker County Health Department for the past three years.

But since summer, Bourne, while continuing her regular duties, has frequently set aside her clerical tasks to investigate the spread of COVID-19 in Baker County.

She’s one of the department’s nine contact tracers — employees who conduct telephone interviews with people who have been in close contact with a resident who tested positive for the virus.

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