Will County Health Department Contact Tracer Team Continues to Grow

COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease that is transmitted from person-to-person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. The spread is much more likely if you have been within six feet of an infected person for at least ten minutes. Symptoms for the disease can take anywhere between two days to two weeks to appear after exposure. Per the CDC, there have been reports of both asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of COVID-19. The amount of time before symptoms appear and possibility of spread before they appear, can lead to an infected person exposing several people before they even know they are sick. To find these exposed individuals and slow the spread of COVID-19, the Will County Health Department is hiring a diverse team of professionals to conduct contact tracing.  With seven new contact tracers beginning their work on Monday, July 27th; the amount of active callers is now over 20.  The roster will grow to between 30 and 35 very soon, as the schedule for the callers, working 8 AM to 6 PM Monday through Saturday, continues to be filled.

Contact tracing involves contacting individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, then identifying the people they may have exposed and working with them to isolate themselves to slow the transmission of the disease. A person diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive a call from a contact tracer, who will ask a series of questions including what symptoms they are experiencing and who they have been in contact with recently. The contact tracers will then call the people that have been exposed, inform them of their exposure and recommend that they isolate themselves for the following fourteen days. Contact tracers will also provide education on what symptoms the contact should look out for, and where to find testing if they become symptomatic or feel the need to get tested. Contact tracers will also provide information on resources for food, care assistance, laundry, and other services that a patient or contact can utilize.

It is important to note that contact tracers will always identify themselves as employees of the Will County Health Department and will never ask for financial information, or any type of payment. If they ask for financial information or payment, it is a scam.

We understand that some of these questions are personal and discussing personal information over the phone with a stranger is uncomfortable. Please know that these questions are vital to determining your risk level and the level of risk posed to others who may have been infected. Your privacy is our priority, and confidentiality is a concern that is constantly enforced. However, if you are a COVID-19 positive patient, informing your contacts of their exposure is vital to slow the transmission, and the Will County Health Department’s contact tracers understand the need for confidentiality. If you are a COVID-19 positive patient, the contact tracer will not disclose your information to your contacts. Your contacts will only be told that they have been exposed to COVID-19, they will not be told who exposed them.

If you receive a call from a contact tracer, it is crucial that you answer the phone or return the call as soon as possible. They will inform you of your exposure, assess your symptoms and provide information on testing sites if you are symptomatic or wish to be tested. Identifying and isolating contacts quickly is the key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Communities unable to quickly trace and isolate contacts of COVID-19 positive patients run the risk of rapidly spreading the disease.

We are learning about COVID-19 in real time, and the situation is constantly evolving. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 symptoms, testing sites, guidelines, data and other information please go to:

https://willcountyhealth.org/coronavirus-information/

http://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html