State moves to bolster contact tracing


On April 29, the Indiana State Dept. of Health announced a new plan to bolster the state’s contact tracing efforts.

The ISDH will centralize all contact tracing for COVID-19 through its department for all Indiana counties beginning May 11, according to state officials.

Should a positive COVID-19 case occur, a notification is sent to a centralized contact tracing system. The infected person will be immediately notified and interviewed to try to determine all of the person’s close contacts and whom they might have also infected.

The person will then be instructed to isolate or seek treatment and will be given any help that is needed, according to state officials. A person will be isolated for 14 days, the estimated incubation time for COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, should they test positive.

Previously, local health departments have conducted contact tracing for any disease outbreak, including COVID-19, and the ISDH has helped when local health departments requested assistance. Currently, the ISDH is conducting investigations and contact tracing in 16 counties.

Indiana entered a $43 million contract with Maximus that renews yearly to open a call center staffed with more than 500 people trained by ISDH epidemiologists to conduct contact tracing for the disease. Health care workforce reserves and public health and medical students are expected to assist in the effort, though the staff may consist of workers who don’t have a medical degree, and coordinators, epidemiologists and managers will supervise the staff. State officials said the call center will remain active as long as necessary, and if more workers were necessary that they would hire them.

State officials believe the move will allow local health departments to focus on tracing that requires work in the community, such as tracing in long-term care facilities and employers, such as manufacturing facilities.