Evanston Responds: Contact Tracing
What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing is a public health process that involves identifying individuals who have been in close contact with an individual who is suspected to have or confirmed to have an infection while they were contagious. Throughout this process, public health staff work with the infected individual to determine everyone they had contact with during the time of possible contagion. They are also educated and informed about the infection so that they understand their risks and the risks of their infection to others.
Why is it important?
Contact tracing is important because it helps prevent the spread of diseases in the community. It is a way to determine who may have been infected and therefore needs to stay home and monitor themselves to see if symptoms or an illness develop. This helps limit the spread of the infection to others. Some individuals may not have known about their exposure until public health officials reach out to them.
What is the City's process?
When a contact is identified, the City's public health staff reach out to the individual to inform them about their exposure and talk to them about the disease, importance of quarantining (staying at home and going nowhere else) and monitoring his/her symptoms. In the case of COVID-19, individuals will monitor themselves by checking their temperature twice daily and watching for symptoms indicative of COVID-19. The quarantine period for COVID-19 is 14 days after an exposure to a contagious individual. Contacts who develop symptoms should promptly isolate themselves and notify Evanston's public health staff. These individuals should also speak with their doctor regarding concerns about symptoms or to discuss a need for testing.
What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?
Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease. Isolation separates an individual with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of those who are not sick but who were exposed to a contagious disease to determine if they become sick.