Philly’s COVID-19 contact tracers find some with the virus reluctant to share information

Philadelphia City Hall.
Photo credit Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio, file

Only 65 percent had phones, answered them and agreed to participate, but one-third of them said they’d had no contact with anyone over the previous two weeks.

“I don’t think that they’re being totally truthful. I think they’re basically not cooperating. People are reluctant to give us the names of folks they’ve been around. There’s a lot of fear and mistrust out there,” Farley said. 

The city’s trying to counteract that by posting videos of each of the 119 contact tracers online so residents can see how non-threatening they are. 

Farley said when they do reach people who’ve been exposed, the vast majority agree to quarantine, and the interviews with those who’ve tested positive are providing valuable information about how the virus spreads.

“Forty-one percent believe that they knew that person they got the infection from and it was typically a household member, and 18 percent said they traveled out of state. So there’s still probably a decent number that are getting infected from travel, but that 18 percent is lower than when we reported on this before and it was 27 percent,” he said. 

Farley said the city is not seeing much spread at work or through the businesses that have reopened, such as hair salons.

He said the city is seeing an increase in new cases in the last few days, though, but that could be associated with the large number of tests getting returned at once. 

Lagging results are still a problem from Quest labs, which does about 12 percent of tests in the city.