LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Dept. of Health Director fielded questions last week from legislators about the state’s contact tracing efforts early during the pandemic. The state spent nearly $100 million in federal funds for programs to contact trace and investigate cases.

The department engaged in these activities from the summer of 2020 to June 2022.

“When it was no longer feasible, we stopped the contact tracing and then we later stopped the case investigation,” Dillaha said.

Dillaha answered questions about the cost and effectiveness.

“Did we find out the contact tracing had any positive impact?” asked State Sen. Dan Sullivan (R).

Dillaha pointed to local hospitals not being overwhelmed as one positive and said death numbers were lower.

“The deaths that were excess deaths were lower than they would have been,” Dillaha said.

Dillaha said looking back, she is pleased with the ADH’s actions at the beginning of the pandemic. She said hundreds if not thousands of lives were likely saved through early contact tracing and case investigation.

“I do think it was worthwhile,” Dillaha said.