I-TEAM VIDEO: Watch local disease detectives trace the spread of COVID-19

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM can now take you inside the search to find how COVID-19 is spreading. We’re giving you the first look at what investigators do after every case — and what they’re doing is revealing trends.

The Summit County Health Dept. released video to the I-TEAM of contact tracing. Local health departments do this after every patient tests positive. Health workers try to track down everyone who was recently in close contact with each patient.

The Summit County Health Department video shows a worker making a call saying, “I’m calling because it looks like the person that you were in contact with has tested positive for COVID-19.”

The worker also says, “I just want to ask you a few questions to determine what type of contact you had with the confirmed case.”

Then she asks a series of questions including:

“Were you within 6 feet of them for at least fifteen minutes?”

“Did you have direct physical contact with the person meaning touch hug or kiss them?”

“The ones that I’ve personally done, they’ve had 5 to 6 contacts that have been fairly close,” Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said.

Skoda added that her office now is seeing younger patients. And, those patients have more close contacts than health workers saw before when much of the state was shut down.

Health departments do the tracing to alert people who are unaware they may have been exposed to the coronavirus. In Sunmit County, about 15 percent of the people tracked down have COVID-19 themselves.

Donna Skoda pointed out, “That 15 percent of the folks could be out walking around not ever thinking anything is wrong. That’s how we get ahead of the spread.”

Statewide, health departments have tied COVID-19 cases to people travelling, family gatherings, workplaces and more.

Oddly, 3 local health departments tell us they’ve tied no cases to recent demonstrations in the streets.

Donna Skoda added, “So we have not tied anything…if, in fact, people were honest where they have been.”

If you get one of those calls and you’ve had close contact with a COVID-19 patient there is a good chance you’ll end up quarantined 14 days with orders. You will be instructed to stay 6 feet away from people in your own house and told not to share things like spoons and forks. You will also be told not to have visitors, not to go out, and more.

On the video recording, the health department worker also says, in light of the close contact, 

“Every day we are going to ask for an AM temperature reading and a PM temperature reading,” she explained.

 We’re told most people cooperate and answer questions openly from contact tracers who are trying to slow the spread of COVID-19 one phone call at a time. 


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