READING, Pa. — As soon as there's a case, soon after comes the trace.

Since it began contact tracing in June, Reading-based Co-County Wellness Services said it has made contact with 11,000 people.

"It has been a journey," said Carolyn Bazik, the agency's executive director. "What we've seen in that journey is our role continues to grow and evolve."

The role it's soon taking on has the potential to save even more lives; the agency will run the county's vaccine call center. There will be a bank of six phones inside, with the phone operators ready to help people schedule their vaccine, particularly those without internet access.

"We're setting up a specific 888 number that will be released to the public," said Bazik. "The call center will be open five days a week, eight hours a day to schedule appointments and to answer questions that come in."

The county is getting ready to open the Berks Cares Vaccine Center. The site at the North Reading Plaza in Muhlenberg Township is expected to open in the coming weeks. Until then, officials said they expect to stay busy with more tracing to come.

"We have turned a huge corner," said Bazik, "but as you point out, numbers are going up, people are still dying, people are still on ventilators, people are still getting sick. But hopefully, as more people are vaccinated and as more people develop maybe a little bit of natural immunity because they had the disease, we'll be able to start stemming the spread a little bit."

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