Rock Island County records three more COVID deaths, Illinois centralizes contact tracing

Local News

A member of the Salt Lake County Health Department COVID-19 testing staff performs a COVID-19 test outside the Salt Lake County Health Department, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The Rock Island County Health Department on Wednesday reported three new COVID-19 deaths since Monday: a woman in her 80s who was in long-term care, a man in his 80s who passed away at home, and a man in his 50s who was hospitalized. The total number of deaths is now 422.

In addition, the health department reports 354 new cases of COVID-19 since the last report on Monday. The total number of cases is now 23,420. Currently, 76 patients are hospitalized in the county with the virus. The average age of newly infected patients is 35.

Amid surges in the Omicron variant, the nation broke a new COVID record as the seven-day average of U.S. cases topped 267,000 on Tuesday, according to a New York Times database.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is working to centralize COVID-19 contact tracing efforts in order to get information about isolation and identifying close contacts to infected individuals as soon as possible during times when cases are surging, and to decrease the burden on local health departments across the state.

Beginning Dec. 28, 2021, all positive cases entered into the state’s data systems associated with a cell phone number will receive an automated text message from IDPH.  The initial outgoing text will read:

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

“Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve as does the virus,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a release. “We are seeing a higher number of new infections each day than we have seen at any time throughout the entire pandemic.  In an effort to reduce the burden on the local health departments across the state, the State will notify cases via text about interviewing with a contact tracer, as well as providing a link to guidance on quarantine, possible treatments, and close contact notification.

“There have been scams associated with COVID-19 and contact tracing so I want people to know that IDPH COVID will be issuing text messages to newly identified cases.” 

Individuals who call the number in the text will be considered as “opting in” for an interview.  ublic 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. This population will receive an additional text message if the individual does not respond to the initial message.

For Illinois COVID updates, click HERE.

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