ST. PAUL -- As more and more cases of COVID-19 are confirmed it's going to take a small army of people to investigate who those folks have come in contact with. The state is estimating they'll need as many as 4,200 contact tracers in the coming weeks and months.

Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehrsman says they had been doing all of their follow-up investigations within 24 hours of receiving a report, but they are starting to fall behind.

In part because of the volume and in part because it's taking longer to do our investigations because a vast majority of our cases now English is not their first language, so we are having to either use interpreters, we do have bi-lingual staff, and we're also using the language line.

Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says here in Stearns County a significant amount of follow-up work is in the Somali population.

Stearns County had 160 new confirmed cases of the virus on Tuesday, with the total now at 975.

It's been previously reported that there have been outbreaks at both the Pilgrim's Pride plant in Cold Spring and at the Jennie-O plant in Melrose, however specific numbers of workers infected at those facilities have not been released.

Last week the state had only 150 case investigators assigned to tracking down the coronavirus, they are adding another 160 people this week. They say they will rely on county public health officials to help ramp up those numbers in the coming weeks.

Malcolm also says she's expecting an update on the modeling projections for Minnesota by the end of this week.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app