Contact tracing not just a job


Unless you’ve been living in a coma the last 10 months, you know there is something called, “COVID-19,” which is rapidly destroying our planet’s commerce-to the delight of some and ire of others

Today we focus on three COVID-19 elements that make up (or need to make up) the big picture. They include symptomology, the work of contact tracers and assistance they could readily use in completing their arduous tasks.

Let’s tackle symptoms first. We will address the most “common”, but even before we do that, we need to look at what we are told about them.

“Symptoms may appear anywhere from two days before to 14 days after exposure to the virus”. (Did these people get their degree in meteorology-MAY APPEAR)?

Continuing to quote, “People with these symptoms MAY have COVID” (See the Nov. 21, 2020 edition of The Tribune, “Humor: More, or Les” column, Weather or Not). MAY have it?

And what are the symptoms the COVID-ites “may” have?

Fever or chills (known as the Laodicean Effect).

Cough (except when told by doctors to turn one’s head and do this).

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (often misinterpreted when analyzed within the throes of intimate emotion).

Fatigue (run a marathon and you obviously have COVID).

Muscle or body aches (workout aftermath proves you have it).

Headache (too much booze? COVID).

New loss of taste or smell (loss of taste — you used to vote for one political party, now another. Loss of smell — you have decided to use deodorant for the first time — and others rejoice that you have the disease. Note: Loss of smell can also be realized in the political party voting change).

Sore throat (you sang non-stop for 96 hours in an attempt to satisfy a world record — you have it for sure).

Congestion or runny nose (you have imbibed a generous helping of horseradish).

Nausea or vomiting (you watch too much Lifetime Television).

Diarrhea (you ingest an entire 17 oz. Aldi’s Mama Cozzi gluten-free cauliflower pizza in one setting — trust me I have experienced this delicious symptom time and again).

New confusion (Wait. You mean for those that have BEEN confused and become confused anew? No wonder the malady is so prevalent).

Inability to wake or stay awake (classroom students, whether learning in person or distantly resemble this remark).

Bluish lips or face (Smurfs have COVID — I just knew it).

And now let’s move on to the duties of society’s members that brave the personal details of strangers, ask questions they themselves never would and get paid giant dollars to do it.

Contact tracing sounds like a grammar school art project, but it’s not. I know some that have been traced, and it’s interesting to see where the lines are (or are not) “drawn.”

Tracing is not just a job — it’s an adventure.

Tracers ask 70 year-old women if they’re pregnant (and if their husband’s name is Abraham). They ask those not born in Indiana if they have recently had a tattoo (Those born outside of Indiana don’t even know what a tattoo is).

They ask those lacking in vanity the last time they had their nails done. They query as to whether or not the suspect had recently been to an acupuncturist (and if so, they contact the office, to let the needles know they may be in danger).

They take an hour to get through each call and tackle every potential trouble you have, from dandruff to toenail fungus — and then they follow-up your interview with so many phone calls you think they were trained by J.D. Powers, and so many letters you presume they formerly worked for Ed McMahon. As a potential health scofflaw, digging deep into your work and worship environments are not taboo.

Can these well-meaning citizens effectively do what their demanding bosses require on their own? Assuredly not. They need help.

“Who,” you ask?

“It’s simple. They get it from The Andy Griffith Show cast.


Ellie Walker: Pharmacist by training, beautiful, brilliant and bold, she is the ideal spokesperson for COVID control. She makes sure tracers are so polite that you could practically get diabetes just listening to them.

Howard Sprague: Accountant. In charge of the overall financial picture-never met a number he didn’t like. A creepy attachment to his overbearing mother gives him just the right amount of sympathy for the elderly afflicted by the disease, fueling his passion for public service.

Ben Weaver: Landlord/department store owner. Makes the Grinch look like Santa Claus. He oversees evictions of the grossly non-compliant.

Ernest T. Bass: Lover of rock music and fan of the stones, he works directly under Ben’s supervision. If you repeatedly fail to comply with department requests, he is the last step before eviction. He will throw rocks at both you and your home, all the while reciting line upon line of hideous poetry, in an ear-bleeding tone.

Sheriff Andy Taylor: Arrests scofflaws. Nnot with a gun, but guitar, as he proudly sings, “You get a line, I’ll get a pole, honey.”

Sarah: A smooth operator, she is in charge over tracer call centers.


Emmett Clark: Owner of the fix-it shop. Ellie has utilized his skills of ingenuity in coming up with an improved COVID vaccine that won’t give you as many side effects as those that intimate you have the disease in the first place.

Otis Campbell: Town drunk, has come up with a viable COVID antidote: One part Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, one part moonshine.

Clara Edwards: Arranges for organ transplants as necessary, and cultivates beautiful flowers for your survivors if the transplants don’t take. Was employed as church organist until recently, when COVID shut down in-person gatherings for houses of worship.

Helen Crump: Taught school for many grade levels for many years until COVID brought about the virtual classroom. She assists with mental health, and encourages the despondent tracees that someday they will in fact live up to their full potential.

Aunt Bea: In line with her domestic training, bakes cookies for all call center staff.


Opie Taylor/Johnny Paul Jason: Work together as a team, visiting local football fields, making sure those in the huddle remain six feet apart.

Floyd Lawson: Employed as barber until COVID prevented people from getting their hair cut, he is a very hard worker, though the tracee must swallow a barbiturate in order to effectively understand what he is saying.

Gomer Pyle and cousin Goober Pyle: Both worked for Wally’s filling station until recently laid off due to less people driving, resulting in less need for car repair. They understand the mechanics of the organization and lie at its heart. When they come upon an especially tantalizing tracee tidbit, they have been known to loudly exclaim, “Well golllllllly” or “Shazzam” respectively. In the spirit of unity they have agreed that future superlatives will be limited to, “Shazzolllllllly.”

Alas, as we come to the conclusion of today’s column, it should be apparent to the most ardent of TAGS fans that one conspicuous Mayberry resident is missing from our list. He is the one with the best suggestion for all of us. When it comes to COVID, he fervently proclaims, “Nip it in the bud.”

Les Linz of Seymour writes the “Humor: More or Les” column. For information about Linz, visit his author page. Send comments to [email protected].

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