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COVID NEWS IN BRIEF: Audit set on cost of contact tracing | Resolution a no-go for UA staff group | Fayetteville library to host shot clinics

by The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | September 11, 2021 at 4:18 a.m.

Audit set on cost of contact tracing

The Legislative Joint Auditing Committee on Friday authorized its staff to audit the Health Department's expenses on contract tracing of coronavirus cases.

The auditing committee's executive committee Thursday recommended the audit requested by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro.

Sullivan said, "I would like to know what it is what the contract tracers are doing and what data that they are collecting and how we are using that to drive policy or are we using that at all. I would like to see where the money goes."

Afterward, Health Department spokeswoman Meg Mirivel said the work of contact tracers is to identify people who have been exposed to the virus and instruct them on how to quarantine when they may be incubating the virus and could become spreaders.

"The purpose of contact tracing is to stop the chain of transmission," she said.

The department "collects and uses data to understand how well we are doing in contact tracing in Arkansas," Mirivel said. "However, we use many other types of data to understand the trends in Arkansas and inform [department] decisions and recommendations."

The Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care and General Dynamics have a combined 475 staff members doing the work related to making calls for contact tracing, she said.

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Through Thursday, General Dynamics has been paid $32.5 million and the Foundation for Medical Care has been paid $26 million for case investigation and contact tracing and related expenses such for personnel and equipment, she said.

The department also has paid $8.1 million to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in the past for case investigation and contract tracing, she said.

-- Michael R. Wickline

Resolution a no-go for UA staff group

FAYETTEVILLE -- Staff leaders at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville voted down a resolution calling for employees to have the choice to work remotely given the ongoing pandemic.

The resolution voted on by UA's staff senate Thursday wasn't a policy but would have expressed the group's sentiment.

Trish Watkins, the chairwoman for the group, said that while the resolution had supporters, a majority voted against it.

"As long as the students are on campus, there's the need for staff," Watkins said. She said some staff members are considered essential to campus operations.

The university this fall semester moved forward with its plans to greatly increase the amount of face-to-face instruction compared with a year ago.

On Wednesday, the university's faculty senate leadership approved the remote work resolution by a 36-6 vote, according to data provided by Mary Savin, chairwoman of the UA faculty group.

-- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Fayetteville library to host shot clinics

Covid-19 vaccination clinics will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fayetteville Public Library on Sept. 21 and Oct. 19.

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The clinics will be in the library's Willard and Pat Walker Community Room. The public can park in the garage using the Mountain Street entrance. The library is at 401 W Mountain St.

Anyone 12 years and older is eligible to be vaccinated. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. No appointments are necessary. Nurses from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will administer the Pfizer vaccine. Spanish and Marshallese interpreters will be on hand for those who need their assistance.

No one needs to provide a Social Security number, proof of citizenship, proof of legal status or insurance to receive a shot.

In keeping with Fayetteville Ordinance 6465, masks covering the nostrils and mouth are required.

Information and preregistration is available at (479) 332-0222.

-- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Job fair focuses on Hispanic teachers

An event aimed at giving Hispanic people information about the availability of jobs in education will be held virtually today because of the pandemic.

The event -- DACA-Hispanic Teachers Virtual Job Fair -- will take place 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. Admission is free. Although the aim is to increase Hispanic employees in education jobs, the event is open to anyone interested in teaching as a profession.

Arkansas United organized the event with the Department of Education to "address teacher shortages that have gotten worse" because of the pandemic and "to fulfill the potential of Act 513."

Act 513 of 2021 addresses the licensing of noncitizens to become teachers. They must meet requirements to teach in Arkansas and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security must have approved the person's request for exemption under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. The person must have current and valid employment authorization document issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

Registration is available at

-- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Print Headline: Audit set on cost of contact tracing


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