Contact tracing is an important strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing involves identifying people who have tested positive for COVID-19 (an infected person is known as a “case”) and those who have come into close contact with them, defined below by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A close contact is defined by the CDPH as someone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 cumulative minutes over the course of a day starting from two days before the person began feeling sick until the time they were isolated or within two days of their positive test if the individual is asymptomatic. Examples of close contacts may include:
- Someone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 cumulative minutes over the course of a day
- Someone who provided care at home to an infected person
- Someone who had direct physical contact with the infected person (hugged or kissed them)
- Someone who shared eating or drinking utensils
- Someone who has been sneezed on, coughed on, or somehow got respiratory droplets on them from an infected person
- A roommate or significant other of an infected person
At the recommendation of the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), SAIC’s Case Management Team is taking the lead in conducting contact tracing for close contacts that occur between members of our community. SAIC is following the contact tracing process set forth by CDPH for higher education institutions, requesting support as needed, and reporting to them all cases occurring among students, staff, and faculty. CDPH will conduct additional follow-up of close contacts outside of our community if necessary. SAIC’s Case Management Team treats information sensitively and consistent with applicable Illinois State, HIPAA, and FERPA laws.
SAIC has two full-time contact tracing positions. These contact tracers work closely with, and receive internal support from, existing staff in the Wellness Center, Human Resources, Student Affairs, and Campus Security. Everyone involved in the contact tracing process completed an online COVID-19 contact tracing course offered by Johns Hopkins University.
Step 1: Interview positive case
When SAIC becomes aware of a positive case within the community, the individual is contacted by a member of SAIC’s Case Management Team to determine details, including their movements on campus and the timeframe in which they were on campus. The contact tracer will work to determine anyone in the SAIC community who they have been in close contact with for two days prior to their first day of symptoms (or their test date for asymptomatic individuals) until they were isolated. Roommates and significant others will always be considered close contacts.
Step 2: Conduct outreach to close contacts
The contact tracer will reach out to all identified SAIC close contacts. During this call, the contact tracer will cover a set of standard information as determined by CDPH:
- A basic health screening for COVID-19 symptoms or other COVID-19 risk factors
- How to arrange for a COVID-19 test, if one is recommended
- Required quarantine protocols and reporting documentation
- Instructions for following-up with the Wellness Center (if the close contact is a student) or a medical provider (if the close contact is faculty or staff)
Step 3: Inform CDPH
SAIC’s contact tracers will inform CDPH of all contact tracing efforts.