I-TEAM: What disease detectives are finding as they investigate cases of COVID-19

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM has learned what local disease detectives are finding as they trace back every case of COVID-19.

Every time someone gets sick with the disease, local health departments examine the case. Now the I-TEAM is getting the first glimpse of what exactly they’re finding.

They’re uncovering outbreaks in neighborhoods and nursing homes.

But, they’re also learning no matter how much they chase the path of the coronavirus, it can often be near impossible to tell how each patient became infected.

Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said her agency begins by exploring where each patient has been.

She said her investigators have uncovered 15 outbreaks with two or more people testing positive for COVID-19 in one location.

*More stories on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in Ohio, here.*

She says the biggest outbreak there involved 80 people in one location.

Investigators go back weeks in a patient’s life, and they often find others infected without even knowing it.

The disease detectives there try to find out how many people live with a patient, where the person works, and more.

But considering the virus can spread by human contact. It can also live on hard surfaces which you might end up touching anywhere in the community. So, tracing cases can help reveal people at risk, but it may not always show how someone got sick.

“We always try to find out how they got it, but because there’s such widespread community spread you don’t really know how anybody got it,” said Skoda.

We’ve met many recovered COVID patients who are left wondering how they got sick.

The first local man infected was diagnosed on an international cruise.

“How did I get it? I have no clue,” he told the I-TEAM.

And a city worker told us after testing positive, “I never expected anything like this.”

The Ohio Department of Health is also stepping up its efforts to contact trace cases.

*Read more investigative stories from the I-TEAM, here.*

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