By Travis Volz
As COVID infections increase to their highest levels since the start of the pandemic, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced plans to centralize contact tracing efforts.
According to IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the new process is designed to decrease the burden on local health departments across the state.
“Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve as does the virus,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We are seeing a higher number of new infections each day than we have seen at any time throughout the entire pandemic.”
Moving forward, all positive cases entered into the IDPH data systems associated with a cell phone number will receive an automated text message. The initial outgoing text will read:
IDPH COVID: There is important info for you. Call 312-777-1999 or click: https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/confirmed-or-possible-covid-19.html
Individuals who call the number in the text will be considered as “opting in” for an interview. Public health officials will prioritize case investigations for individuals who are 65 years and older and are at higher risk of severe illness, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
Residents will receive an additional text message if the individual does not respond to the initial message.
WCHD Role Set to Change
Washington County Health Department Administrator Elizabeth Lehde says her office’s role will change, though battling COVID will still be part of the department’s focus.
Read the full story in this week’s issue