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Scott County Health Department stops contact tracing

The department is citing a lack of resources.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill — As coronavirus cases surge, the Scott County Health Department is putting a hold on contact tracing. 

Contact tracing is when the health department tries to identify people who may have come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, Rock Island County Health Department is taking a very different approach.

As case numbers surge, public health resources are overwhelmed. The Scott County Health Department says with numbers so high, the public health system in the Quad Cities is at capacity, "The cases have escalated so much, it just made it infeasible to continue," said Ed Rivers, Director of the Scott County Health Department.

"100 cases a day to over 400 in over a week or so, we just didn't have the resources to sustain it."

Rivers says identifying and isolating confirmed cases remains the highest priority, "We relinquished contact tracing to the department of public health."

This week, the county stopped contact tracing, they say they simply don't have the man power to keep up. "Its just not one call per case. When we talk to a case we identify several contacts which we may have to investigate," says Rivers.

Over in Rock Island County, 21 staff members are working hard contact tracing. The Rock Island County Health Department are still contact tracing. 120 deaths to date, and 110 new cases on November 18th, the Rock Island County Health Department say contact tracing is basic public health.

"This is what we are trained for, this is what we know how to do," says Janet Hill, from the Rock Island County Health Department. She says contact tracing is critical to controlling the spread of COVID-19.

"We believe that if we get to people in a relative quick time period we can keep them from going out."

She says the virus is everywhere, but contact tracing shows most cases are being linked to smaller private gatherings. "It is now mostly with people you know."

The Scott County Health Department say it will continue contact tracing for schools and long-term care. The number the Rock Island County call people from is a Chicago number. That number is: 312-777-1999.