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Local health departments share importance of COVID-19 contact tracing

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(WEEK) - Illinois reopened nearly 2 weeks ago, and local health departments say with reopening, there is always going to be a concern for an increase in cases.

Peoria City County Health Department and McLean County Health Department are emphasizing the importance of contact tracing when it comes to COVID-19.

Peoria City County Health Department Administrator, Monica Hendrickson, says the city is seeing a correlation in cases with reopening. She says residents should not play the 'blame game'. A rise in cases was expected with reopening.

"I think the numbers that we are starting to see come up, is part of what happens when you reopen. We expect people to get more exposure and with that the cases should come up," said Hendrickson.

Hendrickson explained a lot of Peoria's new cases were based off contact tracing. She stresses the importance of following up with people you have been in contact with if you are been exposed.

"We work with that individual to recognize what their exposure was, where they were employed and so forth, and based on that we might ask that employer to do a cleaning, change the shift, or even close down for awhile," said Hendrickson.

Hendrickson says along with reopening, the rising in cases can also be linked to the city's amount of testing sites. Hendrickson said the Civic Center site tested nearly 500 people on Monday.

Contact tracing has proven to be so vital when it comes to positive cases, McLean County Health Department is bringing in additional help.

"We have I believe four of our staff who are not normally doing contact tracing, we have just trained four additional staff to help us in this transition to where we are hiring part time temporary contact tracers to help us with COVID," said administrator Jessica McKnight.

McKnight says the health department applied for funding from the Illinois Department of Public Health, in order to hire additional workers.

"We haven't heard back if we got what we asked for, but our initial plans are to hire about 10 to get them trained, with the potential of hiring up to 20 to 30,"

Along with informing those you have been in contact with if you are exposed, both health departments continue to urge residents to wear masks and social distance.

Gabi Guerrero

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