Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch says contact tracing, or notifying people who were exposed to a person with COVID-19, is going to be key for businesses reopening amid the pandemic.
Deutsch also discussed the city’s phased reopening during the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber of Commerce’s Return to the Perimeter series on Thursday, June 25, which was sponsored by the city and Cox Enterprises.
“It’s really important because for offices to open successfully and for the Georgia economy to fully reopen and to keep Georgians safe, we need everyone to work toward slowing the spread, and contact tracing is an important part of that,” Deutsch said.
Deutsch said a person who tests positive for COVID-19 would notify the health department of everyone they came into contact with for longer than 15 minutes in the last few days. The health department would then reach out to those people and recommend them to get tested or self-quarantine and monitor their symptoms.
Contact tracing does not include surveilling residents, Deutsch said, and all the information about previous contact would be supplied by the person who tested positive.
Deutsch said Dunwoody has about 45,000 residents but sees traffic from about 100,000 people because of those who come into the city for work.
She said she hopes improvements in testing also will help control the spread of the virus. Deutsch said she thinks test results have been coming back much more quickly in the past week, which would make the case tracker data released by the DeKalb County Board of Health a more accurate depiction of active cases.
“The virus isn’t going away,” Deutsch said. “The need for good data isn’t going away, either. I’m hoping [the DeKalb County Board of Health] can increase the capacity to provide data in a little bit more useful form.”
Currently, the DeKalb board provides updates every couple of days with the number of cases broken down by ZIP codes.
In dealing with the pandemic for the past few months, Deutsch said she learned a regional approach is the best way to tackle a public health crisis. In March, she said different guidelines from Dunwoody and surrounding cities confused residents, and she’s since been communicating regularly with other mayors in the area to be consistent.
Dunwoody, along with other cities around the state, are at the tailend of their phased reopening of city facilities, which started in late May. The Dunwoody Municipal Court reopened June 16 and City Hall opened June 15.
Deutsch said the court is running smoothly with safety precautions and City Hall has been quiet with few people using the building regularly. Deutsch said the city staff proactively readied employees to work from home when the city shut down on March 13.
“I’m really proud of how prepared our city staff was,” Deutsch said.
Dunwoody started opening some park amenities as early as May 18, and Deutsch said she chose not to completely close the parks or trails to allow people space to exercise during the shelter-in-place guidelines.
Though businesses and cities are reopening, Deutsch reminds residents to continue wearing masks and social distancing to help slow the virus, especially because of the rise in cases since reopening.
“The virus isn’t going away, but we have to open the economy,” Deutsch said. “There is no choice.”