The Illinois Department of Public Health has said it will no longer conduct contact tracing over the phone for people who test positive for COVID-19 and will use case notifications instead. automated by SMS from next month.
Starting June 1, IDPH officials say they will no longer make case investigation phone calls to people who test positive for COVID-19, and that the contact tracing call center that had been established during the pandemic will cease operations.
Instead, these people will receive automated text messages on their mobile devices.
The messages, which will be sent to people whose cases are reported to the Illinois National Electronic Disease Surveillance System, will direct callers to resources via automated voice prompts in English, Polish and Spanish, according to a press release.
The message will read:
“IDPH has important information for you: Call 312-777-1999 or visit dph.illinois.gov/covidhelp?ch=sms Call al 312-777-1999 or visit dph.illinois.gov/covidhelp?ch=sms”
People who receive the messages will have the option of calling an automated information line or visiting the website link in the message for further guidance on isolation, close contact notification and resource availability.
The previous system involved contact tracer reminder options and individual case investigations for people aged 65 and over.
According to the state’s COVID website, patients are encouraged to self-notify those they came into contact with within 48 hours of their COVID diagnosis.
The state says it is making the switch due to the widespread availability of COVID vaccines and home testing kits. It says many other states have already halted universal case investigations and contact tracing, which Illinois officials say is being done under new CDC contact tracing guidelines.
Officials say contact tracing will continue in cases that occur in congregate facilities.