Upcoming Changes to Illinois COVID-19 Contact Tracing

ROCK ISLAND CO., Ill. (KWQC) – The Illinois Department of Public Health will support COVID-19 contact tracing through the State Contact Tracing Surge Center.

Rock Island County Health Administrator Nita Ludwig said the surge center will help move work out of their department, especially as COVID cases increase this winter.

“It’s almost impossible for us to stay on top of this contact tracing,” Ludwig said. “Just imagine this happening across the entire state of Illinois, and multiply that by some of the larger counties and you can see the cases spiraling out of control.”

Instead of local health departments notifying each positive case, the surge center will send this text message “IDPH COVID: There is important information for you. Call 312-777-1999 or click , and a link to a webpage with isolation guidelines and other useful information. The text will most likely be from a 312 area code. It will also ask those who test positive where they may have contracted COVID and who they have come into contact with.

Local health departments will still be in charge of contact tracing with schools, congregate care facilities and dormitories.

Ludwig said she hopes it will eventually ease the workload on the health department.

“We don’t really know how this is all going to work until January when it really kicks in,” Ludwig said. “That should alleviate quite a few cases right now.”

With President Biden announcing new efforts to improve the accessibility of COVID home testing, Ludwig said those plans also pose a challenge for contact tracing.

“While they’re a great tool for people you know, if you do a home test and it’s positive, you know, you have to self-isolate, wear masks and all those sorts of things. But that poses problems when with the numbers”

Ludwig recommends anyone with a positive home test result follow up with their primary care physician for documentation for work or any other purpose.

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