SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Illinois Department of Public Health announced on Tuesday that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will now receive an automated test message notifying them.
The agency hopes that it will centralize contact tracing efforts. The texts will include quarantine guidance, possible treatments and close contact notification.
“If you caught COVID-19 and you still have symptoms of COVID-19, you should still be in isolation,” said Jeff Pothof, UW Health’s Chief Quality Officer & Emergency Medicine Physician.
The CDC cut quarantine guidance in half on Monday. New government guidance now says that people without symptoms should isolate for just five days, instead of ten.
“There are some people who contract COVID-19, they’re only symptomatic for a day or two, they start to not have symptoms and oftentimes if they take a test on day five they can be negative,” Pothof said. “In that situation, it’s not crazy to think that they can break isolation a little bit sooner. I think the trickiness with this recommendation is the CDC is speaking to millions of Americans and not everyone has that course of the disease where real mild for a day or two, I get better, I test negative.”
Pothof said that the broad recommendation does not apply for everyone.
“There’s other people who are pretty symptomatic at day five and a lot of symptoms on day five, you’re probably still shedding the virus to some degree,” Pothof said. “I think that the only harm is being more accurate, more factual with the guidance as it gets much more difficult to apply across a broad population, because folks are wondering does that apply to me or not apply to me, should I do that, should I not? It can be hard for folks to get the right answers to those questions.”
The goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19, and the quarantine guidance is not the only change. Winnebago County Health Department Director Dr. Sandra Martell released a statement on Tuesday, commenting on the IDPH’s new text service. The IDPH said that it will only send the text if they have the person’s number on file.
Find Martell’s full statement below:
“The Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) is excited by the changes in contact tracing. Beginning today, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will be sending text messages to those who test positive for COVID-19. The text will also include a link to guidance on quarantine/isolation, possible treatments, and close contact notification. Public health officials will prioritize case investigations for individuals who are 65 years and older and are at higher risk of severe illness, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
Technology has been an effective tool in other programs, including WIC and vaccine scheduling. Centralizing Contact Tracing will be an asset to the community as people will have quick and easy access to their isolation guidelines, treatments available and other ways to stop the spread.
WCHD will continue to follow-up on cases in high-risk settings, including congregate facilities, schools, and daycares.
Please respond when you get the text:
IDPH COVID: There is important info for you. Call 312-777-1999 or click: https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/confirmed-or-possible-covid-19.html“