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Salute the Badge: ETX officers serve as contact tracers

Salute the Badge

TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Some law enforcement officers are finding meaning in a new type of work during the pandemic.

Several of them have served as contact tracers. Among them is Matt Cashatt. His day to day duties have drastically changed because of COVID-19. “We’ve actually worked through the night, into the night, to try to contact people on a couple of large cases,” he said.

Cashatt, who is typically the Texarkana, Texas Police Department’s training coordinator, has been serving as a contact tracer since March. It’s a tedious job, but he said, it’s necessary work. “The hardest thing that we’re finding is when a person goes symptomatic, they might not test for three, four or five days, and it’s that period of time where they’ve had the most social interaction. So, that’s a challenge to run down those folks and at least tell them, ‘hey, you’ve had direct contact with somebody that’s been confirmed.’”

Texarkana, Texas Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Schlotter said law enforcement training makes officers uniquely aware of the need for privacy in this situation. “When this all started in March, very quickly we realized the state’s resources were overwhelmed, and for us to protect our own citizens here in Bowie County, we needed to have our own effort in the contact tracing relms,” he said.

At one time, the city had four contact tracers. There are currently two. Cashatt encourages people to check his identity when they’re doubtful about giving their information. “Just say ‘hey, I’m working out of the Emergency Operations Center and we’re under nondisclosures, we’re under HIPAA non-disclosures so it’s safe to talk to me.’ We’ve had certain people that are still skeptical so we just say ‘hey, if you want to verify who I am. just call the EOC and they can tell you,’” he said. 

The latest local information and updates can be found at http://www.coronatxk.org. The local hotline telephone number is (903) 255-5560.

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