Illinois Department of Public Health to centralize contact tracing

Coronavirus Watch

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WEHT) On Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced that it is centralizing contact tracing in order to improve efforts to isolate those infected with COVID and relieve the burden imposed on local health organizations across the state.

Starting Tuesday, all positive cases entered into the state’s data systems associated with a cell phone number will receive an automated text message from IDPH that reads

IDPH COVID: There is important info for you. Call 312-777-1999 or click:  https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/confirmed-or-possible-covid-19.html

Those who call the number in the text message will be considered as ‘opting in’ for interview. Cases involving individuals 65 or older and at higher risk for severe illness will be considered top priority. If these people do not respond to the first text message, additional messages will be sent.

“Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve as does the virus,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “We are seeing a higher number of new infections each day than we have seen at any time throughout the entire pandemic.  In an effort to reduce the burden on the local health departments across the state, the State will notify cases via text about interviewing with a contact tracer, as well as providing a link to guidance on quarantine, possible treatments, and close contact notification.  There have been scams associated with COVID-19 and contact tracing so I want people to know that IDPH COVID will be issuing text messages to newly identified cases.”

While most confirmed cases will be traced through the State Contact Tracing Surge Center, local health departments will continue to respond to cases in high-risk settings, including congregate facilities.  Local health departments will also be able to see details about cases so they can identify any potential clusters or outbreaks and can request those cases be transferred from the Surge Center for further contact tracing.  Additionally, local health departments will continue to have oversight of schools, daycares, and congregate setting, including assistance with mitigation strategies and outbreak management.

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