Officials say 660,000 Connecticut residents have signed up to receive alerts when someone they were close to tests positive for COVID-19, but logging a positive case doesn’t happen immediately.
“We’re coming up on about 20% of the entire population of the state has activated this, which gives us more than the critical mass we need for this to be effective from a public health perspective,” Josh Geballe, Gov. Ned Lamont’s chief operating officer, said.
But logging a positive case is complicated and doesn’t happen immediately.
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“It depends on how quickly the labs get us the test results. Usually that’s happening quite quickly,” Geballe said.
Geballe said the average turnaround is 24 to 48 hours after the test has been administered. It then goes to the contact tracing database and one of the state’s 750 contact tracers get ahold of the person who tested positive.
“They’re still getting to almost 100% of the cases in less than 48 hours,” Geballe said.
The contact tracer will ask a series of questions – including identifying who the positive person might have come into contact with and – if they are actively using the state’s contact tracing app. If so – they will ask the positive user to enter a one-time code into their phone.
“So 85 people have actually entered the code into their phone having gotten it from a contact tracer,” Geballe said.
He said they don’t know how many notifications go out from those 85 people because it’s all anonymous.
As far as getting results quickly so contact tracing can begin, “we’re getting over 75% of those test results in less than 48 hours,” he said.
“It’s 48 hours window where people can transmit to other people, right? So the timing is very, very important,” Paulo Verardi, a virologist at UConn, said.
Verardi said it’s also important to remember a person could contract the virus during the 48 hours they are waiting for their test results.
Yvette Highsmith-Francis, a regional vice president with Community Health Center, Inc., said they are doing the best to keep up with testing demand, which is increasing.
“If people are tested by Monday they should be able to know their results in time for Thursday,” Highsmith-Francis said.