Delaware health officials reveal contact tracing data

DOVER — The Department of Health and Social Services unveiled data for contact tracing Thursday, revealing a wealth of new information that offers a look at how successful efforts to contain COVID-19 have been.

Available online as part of the state’s coronavirus data dashboard, the information covers the start of Delaware’s contact tracing program on June 27 through August 5. The statistics may appear confusing, but at their core the numbers reveal health officials have been unable to reach a large chunk of people believed to be at risk for having contracted COVID-19 from contact with another Delawarean.

Contact tracing is one of the major procedures for stopping coronavirus, part of the test, trace and isolate plan. In the best-case scenario, officials are able to contact every Delawarean who tests positive and prompt them to recall interactions in close proximity to others. Officials can then contact those individuals and determine if they’ve been tested or not.

Of the 4,818 people with positive coronavirus tests in the initial 40 days of the program, 1,413 were either ineligible for an interviewed (such as individuals in prison or the hospital) or did not have a valid phone number, per the data.

DHSS was able to contact 2,781 and fully interview 2,553 of the remaining 3,405 people.

There are numerous reasons why someone might not have taken part in contact tracing, which is not mandatory. Some individuals simply declined to be interviewed, while others said they had already tested negative. Language barriers can also be in an issue in this regard.

In total, the Delawareans interviewed named 9,181 people who were in contact with them and thus could have caught coronavirus. DHSS was able to reach 3,548 of those (again, many people did not have a valid phone number or did not take part). In total, 2,916 were interviewed.

One thousand five hundred fifty-two said they had tested positive for COVID. Two hundred seventy-one said they had tested negative, and the remaining 1,093 had not been tested.

The average person who went through the whole process had 3.6 contacts at risk.

Cases prior to late June “were investigated and contact traced using a different system,” per the state’s coronavirus website. Visit https://myhealthycommunity.dhss.delaware.gov/locations/state/coronavirus-mitigation#mitigation-contact-tracing for more.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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