Gov. Pritzker pushes to ramp up COVID-19 contact tracing

Coronavirus
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CHICAGO — Gov. JB Pritzker is launching an effort to increase contact tracing of COVID-19 patients in Illinois. The move is aimed at stopping the spread of the virus throughout the state.

Pritzker said Illinois is going in alone, without federal help, to ramp up testing and develop a robust contact tracing program.

The governor said the latter is a must for schools and more businesses to reopen.

Contact tracing isn’t new, local health departments have been doing it for a long time — for example, when someone is diagnosed with AIDS.

The CDC said it is crucial to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

A John Hopkins study concludes the nation will need about 100,000 contact tracers. Pritzker said Illinois needs to hire 3800 tracers and estimates the state’s program will cost $80 million.

An epidemiologist, formally with the CDC, is developing the state’s program.

Essentially, if you test positive for COVID-19, a tracer would reach out to people you have had close contact with the previous two weeks.

This contact tracer may arrange to have those people tested and provide support to those who may need to self-quarantine.

For schools and restaurants to reopen, Pritzker is requiring the capacity to contact trace on 90 percent of new cases.

“What we’re now going to put in place, and we’re in process, we’re imitating one of the great collaborative efforts that’s happening in the United States. And that’s what’s happened in Massachusetts. It’s the Massachusetts Contact Tracing Collaborative. We can do that in Illinois, Pritzker said in an interview with CNN.

Pritzker said the state’s contact tracing system should be in place in the next few weeks.

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