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Be kind | Contact tracers hear "vicious and hateful" things every day, officials say

The Knox County Health Department said that its staff hears "vicious and hateful" things every day when they call people.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Contact tracers play one of the most important roles in trying to control the spread of COVID-19. They reach out to people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus to track where it may spread. They help warn people about COVID-19.

In response, officials said contract tracers have heard hate from the other side of the phone.

"There has been a growing sentiment, from the staff going out and enforcing regulations to the staff that's doing contact tracing and working our phone bank, or people who are just really angry, and saying some very vicious and hateful things to our staff." Charity Menefee said, with the Knox County Health Department. "It's challenging because this is day-in and day-out, and it doesn't stop."

Regardless of where a person is tested, if they test positive and are a Knox County resident, the department will contact them according to state and federal guidelines to begin a contact tracing investigation.

The health department also said that staff members have received hate and criticism for enforcing regulations.

They're asking people to be patient if they get a call from a contact tracer or speak with a health department worker. They said that they're asking for kindness, and for everyone to remember one thing: that everyone is doing their best in such an unprecedented time.