Evanston Responds: Contact Tracing
The City's Health and Human Services Department conducts contact tracing to track and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Contact tracing includes reaching out to individuals who may have contracted or been exposed to the virus, and providing education and instructions for quarantining and monitoring symptoms.
To date, this has resulted in over 1,000 quarantine and isolation orders, greatly reducing the number of people potentially spreading the virus to others. The Department is seeking the public's assistance and cooperation in this critical public health process.
How you can help
- Respond to requests. Did you miss a call from an unknown number? Check your voicemail in case it was the Evanston Health and Human Services Department. Staff may also send a letter via mail or email if a response is not received by phone. Please note that contact tracers will never request financial account information or social security numbers. (Beware of COVID-19 scams.) You can contact the Health and Human Services Department by emailing email@example.com or calling/texting 847-448-4311.
- Provide information. Community members can trust the Health and Human Services Department with their health information. Information helps staff contact those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 to reduce the spread in our community.
- Follow instructions. Follow the Department's isolation or quarantine instructions to help keep your friends, family and community safe.
Learn more about contact tracing below.
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?
The City's Health and Human Services Department is responsible for COVID-19 case interviews and contact tracing in Evanston. 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.