Jamie Martines of Spotlight PA and Ese Olumhense of Spotlight PA
Image: DAN NOTT / For Spotlight PA
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Since July, state and local agencies in Pennsylvania have employed more than 1,600 case investigators and contact tracers to identify people who have tested positive for the coronavirus or who may have been exposed to it. The aim is to ask the people they trace a series of questions related to contraction and spread of the virus, as well as advise measures to curb it.
Health Secretary Rachel Levine says this tracing system is key to slowing the state’s exploding cases. But the response rate so far is low, and the state is enduring another period of record-setting cases.
Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health show that of the 34,719 cases reported statewide from Nov. 8 to Nov. 14, 8,332 people — or about 24% of those cases — were successfully reached by a contact tracer.
Of those who participated in a case investigation, 3,619 people — fewer than half of those contacted during that period — responded to questions about which businesses they visited, or if they attended large events.
Levine says that people are not participating in interviews, with some refusing to answer questions and others not picking up the phone or responding to messages. But state officials have also skirted questions about whether there are enough contact tracers to fulfill the mission, or if there are other obstacles, like insufficient contact information or language barriers.
Spotlight PA wants to investigate where the issues lie and whether Pennsylvania is doing enough with its contact tracing efforts to make it effective. We need your help.
Are you a case investigator or contact tracer? Has a contact tracer or case investigator contacted you? How can this system improve? Using the forms below, share your experiences with us.
Your privacy is very important to us, and we will not publish what you share with us without your permission. We may summarize your experience, without using your name, when reporting on trends we identify. Additionally, we will not share your information with third-parties.
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