In cooperation with local health and school officials, the Journal-Republican is presenting Q and A's on issues surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. We will be posting them online throughout the week, and also in our weekly print edition.
COVID Q&A: David Remmert, DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department Administrator
Question: About contact tracing. Some individuals will have received new diagnoses and then no one will call close contacts immediately. Why not?
David Remmert: We have uncovered a lag in the reporting of cases from testing sites/area providers. We cannot begin contact tracing until we have a case report in our system. The situation has been brought to our attention from patients who received a diagnosis and then notify us that they tested positive and the case report isn't found. The worst case scenario thus far has been that we won't receive the case report until 5 days later.
Question: If a person is diagnosed positive, what defines a close contact? We had a case with an employee at the courthouse, so why wasn’t the courthouse closed down?
Remmert: A "close contact" is someone who was exposed to a case and was within 6 feet of that case for a cumulative duration of 15 minutes or longer. Just because other staff were at the courthouse, doesn't mean they have all been exposed. For many workers, they are never within 6 feet and may only pass one another in a hallway. That would technically not meet that definition. While surfaces may theoretically be a vehicle for the virus, the CDC has noted that this is not how the virus is known to transmit. It passes from person-to-person contact.