Philadelphia Contact Tracing Program Underway

In Tuesday’s press briefing, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley announced that there are 142 new cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia, bringing the total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 29,945. Over the past week, the average number of cases has been 164 per day, up from 141 per day from last week and 111 per day the week before that. This increase can be attributed in part to increased testing in the city, as well as reporting delays on test results. On average, 5.2% of tests return positive.

Mayor Kenney encouraged people to avoid parties and large gatherings, as these cause the virus to spread rapidly through communities. Young people in particular have been predominantly affected by the virus over the past weeks, and reduction of social gatherings can help to reduce virus transmission overall among this demographic.

Dr. Farley also discussed the implementation of contact tracing in the city. Contact tracing involves reaching out to people with positive COVID-19 diagnoses and asking them with whom they have come into contact since contracting the virus. The Department of Public Health then reaches out to these provided contacts and instructs them to self-quarantine for fourteen days, monitoring themselves for symptoms and checking their temperature daily, to limit the spread of the virus.

The Department of Public Health has created a new division specifically focused on contact tracing. The division is split into five teams, one of which is entirely Spanish-speaking to best reach the diverse Philadelphia community.

Since contact tracing has begun, the division reports that one-third of people cannot provide any people they have contacted since contracting the virus, and of the people who can report contacts, the average number is 2.7 people. The division has been successful in reaching 73% of these contacts.

The division consists of 108 staff members, and hopes to grow in size to tackle contact tracing on the largest scale possible.

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