Cooperation with Pa. COVID-19 contact tracers plummeting

ALLEGHENY CO., Pa. — Anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus gets a call from the state health department to trace their close contacts over the past few weeks and determine where they could have contracted the virus and if anyone else may have been exposed.

Their contacts are then called and told to quarantine to help prevent it from spreading any further.

But 11 Investigates has learned a growing number of people are not answering that call, and it’s a problem that has been getting worse for months.

One of the most important questions tracers ask is if the person who tested positive visited a business or large gathering.

In mid-August, the Pa. Department of Health said 46% of people contacted agreed to tell tracers where they visited. One month later, cooperation fell slightly to 42%.

By the first week in November, that number plummeted. Only 16% of people were willing to say whether they visited a business or large gathering.

“More and more people are not providing this information as part of the case investigations. That’s a real challenge for us," said Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of health.

That makes tracing the virus nearly impossible and allows little hope of getting it under control.