Contact Tracing and Case Investigation
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Update: In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on universal contact tracing, Illinois has pivoted its COVID-19 contact tracing response to case notification only as of June 1, 2022. Illinois had previously implemented traditional contact tracing to keep Illinoisans safe from COVID-19. However, as the pandemic evolved, the state has become more strategic in its case investigation and contact tracing approaches.
What is Case Notification?
Case notification is when every positive case receives a text message. This message consists of a link that directs cases to the IDPH website’s COVID-19 case page. The page contains information on how positive cases should isolate, where they can find resources, and other COVID-19-related news.
What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing is a public health practice that attempts to identify and to notify persons who have been in contact with a confirmed case of an infectious disease. Contact tracing and case investigation have been used for decades to slow or stop the spread of infectious diseases. The strategy is essential to controlling the transmission of infectious diseases like COVID-19.
What is case investigation?
Case investigation is a part of the process of supporting patients with COVID-19 that involves a discussion to help them patients recall everyone with whom they had close contact during the timeframe in which they may have been infectious.
Both case investigation and contact tracing are done by trained public health workers who provide health guidance, answer questions, and offer support for isolating or quarantining. They are used to help protect you, those closest to you, and those in your community by slowing the spread of COVID-19.
These public health workers are available to answer questions, alleviate concerns, and offer resource assistance for those who test positive and need to isolate. Public health workers can provide support to those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and need to quarantine by providing helpful information that can protect them and those they care about, including offering resource assistance to help them stay home.
Previously, the traditional method of contact tracing was deployed to keep Illinoisans safe from COVID-19.
What happens if I get a text?
If you test positive for COVID-19, you’ll get an automated text message that will have a link to the IDPH website for how best to isolate and quarantine, as well as other key information. The message is as follows:
What should I do while quarantining?
You likely won’t receive your test results right away, but don’t be discouraged. Here are some steps to take in the meantime:
- Follow Quarantine Guidance Here.
- Retrace your steps. Recall where you went and who you were in close contact with recently.
A public health worker may be available to provide support in case you test positive and need to take necessary precautions.
What if my test results come back positive?
A positive result can be nerve-wracking, but don’t panic. About 97% of people who have contracted COVID-19 recovered. To keep from passing the virus onto others, take these additional steps:
- Follow Current Isolation Guidance Here.
- Retrace your steps. Recall where you went and who you were in close contact with recently. Notify anyone who you have been in close contact with.
What happens with my information?
Your private health information is secured and always kept confidential. No sensitive data, like Social Security numbers, is collected. IDPH does not exchange private health information with anyone, including law enforcement, credit collection organizations, or immigration agencies. If you request resource support to keep you home safe during the quarantine or isolation period, IDPH can refer you to a community-based organization to coordinate resources with your consent.
How much is being spent on this effort and where is the funding going?
In 2021, local health departments received approximately $230 million to perform and to improve contact tracing, testing efforts, vaccination programs, and community outreach.
Community-based organizations received $60 million for resource coordination, community health outreach, and contact tracing support for those impacted by COVID-19.
Where can I find additional support and resources?
Resources may be available to those who have COVID-19 and their close contacts. Reach out to your local health department for additional support and resources. If you have any questions about testing, contact tracing, or anything else, visit the following websites or call the corresponding numbers: