Contact Tracing Can Help Lead to a Cautious Restart of Economy

Apr 16, 2020

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker and some state and federal health officials are stressing the need for contact tracing as one of the pillars for helping re-open the economy.

Shawnna Rhine with Southern Seven Health Department says contact tracing involves nurses reaching out to people who have been in contact with a COVID-19 patient within the past two weeks.

"Where they have been within six feet for more than ten minutes. Once they have gotten those contacts, then they reach out to them and start talking with them about the process."

Rhine says this can be painstaking research.

"The staff has to go back and trace their steps over the last two weeks, which can be very time consuming and it's very difficult."

She says the goal is to find out who needs to be quarantined to slow the spread of the virus.

The slowing of the rate of infection from COVID-19 is encouraging leaders to talk about how to allow some businesses to open back up or expand the definition of essential workers. But, Rhine says social distancing and personal hygiene should still be practiced.

"We still want to adhere to these as much as you possibly can. Really, we should always be washing our hands on a regular basis to help control any type of germ spread."

She says hopefully the hygiene practices helping slow the spread of COVID-19 will remain in place for the next flu season.

"Encouraging people to understand the importance of getting vaccinated and to maintaining those hygiene criteria."

Rhine says hygiene vigilance will also help prevent a resurgence of COVID-19.