KANE COUNTY, IL — Local public health officials are urging people not to ignore their calls as they work to conduct contact tracing, an “imperative” step to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
When a person tests positive for the coronavirus, Kane County Health Department employees ask about their recent travels and who they may have come in contact with over the previous days. The department then works to notify those people and provide them with isolation guidelines and other assistance, public information officer Susan Stack said Thursday.
The Kane County Health Department does not keep track of how many calls are going unanswered, but it’s clear employees are “not successful in reaching 100 percent of people,” Stack said.
Officials are putting a particular focus on reaching the county’s Hispanic community, which is among the hardest-hit demographics in the state of Illinois. Stack acknowledged “many people feel hesitant” to answer a call from a government agency, but she insisted the health department is “just looking to help you out.”
“It’s imperative,” Stack said of contact tracing. “It’s one of the most important things that we’re doing to try to contain the spread of the virus.”
The health department does not provide any identifying information about those who have tested positive, but in many cases they are family members or coworkers, Stack said.
The Kane County Health Department has dozens of people performing contact tracing, including some county employees who are reassigned once a week to help with the caseload, Stack said. About a dozen new contact tracers are in training.
Stack said health department officials are confident they are “ready to handle” a potential uptick in confirmed coronavirus cases if bars and restaurant begin reopening at the end of the month, but “we’re hoping that doesn’t happen.”