Even before the current novel coronavirus pandemic, contact tracing has long been recognized as one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of infectious diseases during outbreaks.
The Illinois Department of Public Health and Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday put an added emphasis on the benefits of contact tracing, with the governor speaking on the subject at his daily news conference while the IDPH began posting region-by-region numbers on the process of identifying cases and those they’ve come into contact with while providing answers and support.
“Today, I want to review contact tracing data,” Pritzker said Friday afternoon. “Across Illinois, our 97 local health departments, operated by counties and cities across the state, are each in charge of reaching out to people who have tested positive for COVID-19 locally and evaluating all of their contacts, determining from there who else in their communities may have been exposed.”
Statewide, COVID-19 cases by potential exposure location, defined as being “gathered by asking cases to recall locations visited in the 14 days preceding symptom onset or specimen collection if symptoms are not present,” by IDPH revealed a wide set of locations where confirmed COVID-19 cases may have been.
At the top of the list: Other, with 4,180 cases, or 11.6% of the total breakdown.
Second: Bars and restaurants, with 3,877 cases, or 10.8% of the total breakdown.
After that, school (10.5%), a workplace (other than the office) at 10.3%, hospital or clinic (8.63%), business or retail (8.56%), office setting (5.7%), and private home (3.62%), were the most common locations for COVID-19 location exposures listed.
You can check out your individual region's results at: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/location-exposure.
With the number of cases continuing to climb across the state, so too will the workload of contact tracers.
The statistics of their efforts to this point have been released.
Of 191,960 confirmed cases statewide between Aug. 1 and Oct. 24, contact tracers have attempted to contact 133,017 [69.29%] of the sufferers and 120,517 [70.11%] of those designated “close contacts” — those who have been identified as having been within six feet of a reported case for 15 minutes from two days before the illness onset until the time the case was isolated.
Out of those attempts, contact tracers have successfully interviewed 102,864 [53.59%] of those with COVID-19 and 97,314 [56.61%] of their identified close contacts.
“Just like wearing a mask, answering a contact tracer’s call is a way to help keep your family safe and protect your community,” Pritzker said. “And that’s going to be even more important with community transmission as high as it is right now.”
By region, percentages attempted and interviewed across northern Illinois from Aug. 1 to Oct. 24 are as follows:
• Region 1 [DeKalb, Boone counties, westward] — 90.55% cases attempted, 73.53% cases interviewed, 51.26% contacts attempted, 42.90% contacts interviewed
• Region 2 [Bureau, Putnam, La Salle, Grundy, Livingston counties, westward] — 92.00% cases attempted, 75.62% cases interviewed, 77.52% contacts attempted, 67.17% contacts interviewed
• Region 7 [Will, Kankakee counties] — 83.15% cases attempted, 53.67% cases interviewed, 45.86% contacts attempted, 36.55% contacts interviewed
• Region 8 [Kane, DuPage counties] — 96.24% cases attempted, 70.81% cases interviewed, 62.99% contacts attempted, 51.95% contacts interviewed
• Region 9 [McHenry, Lake counties] — 93.52% cases attempted, 71.96% cases interviewed, 48.58% contacts attempted, 37.69% contacts interviewed
• Region 10 [suburban Cook County] — 18.99% cases attempted, 13.90% cases interviewed, 54.44% contacts attempted, 47.91% contacts interviewed
• Region 11 [Chicago] — 47.48% cases attempted, 29.99% cases interviewed, 74.70% contacts attempted, 45.47% contacts interviewed
Contact tracing data will be updated on the IDPH's website weekly from here forward on Fridays.