Cleveland, Case Western teaming up to conduct contact tracing

Posted at 3:52 PM, Apr 08, 2020

CLEVELAND — The mission all along has been do what we can to contain the spread of COVID-19.

However, repeated requests from doctors for more testing exposed shortcomings in the ability to keep tabs of a virus that’s quickly on the move.

When a Cleveland resident is diagnosed with coronavirus, the clock starts ticking according to Dr. Daniel Tisch, an infectious disease epidemiologist and Director of the Case Western Reserve University Master of Public Health Program.

“I’m an infectious disease epidemiologist,” said Tisch.

Early in the outbreak, he assembled a team made up of infectious disease and public health experts from Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine.

“We’ve really been at the forefront. We had some very practical issues to deal with,” said Tisch.

Their mission: address concerns on campus and across the metro area.

“We drew upon the expertise from our alumni, and from our current students and faculty and staff,” said Tisch.

Now facing a pandemic, CWRU is partnering with the Cleveland Department of Public Health to closely track cases of COVID-19.

“Decrease the likelihood that transmission will subsequently occur,” said Tisch.

Those family members, coworkers or friends of a patient are all notified through phone-based tracing.

“They may be infectious and not be aware of it,” said Tisch.

While protecting a patient’s privacy, Tisch and his team work through a contact list to try and contain the spread of the virus.

“Contact tracing is essential to that,” said Tisch.

Tisch said in the absence of wide-spread testing, this work is proving essential to help protect those in our community who are most vulnerable.

“We’ve been observing some success. We’ve been able to buy some time for the development of new tests and development of new knowledge,” said Tisch.

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