Pa. officials: With high number of COVID-19 cases, ability to do proper contact tracing is limited

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Some business owners, like restaurateurs and those who own gyms, argue that their businesses are being unfairly targeted with the state's coronavirus-related shutdowns. But city leaders say there's a reason for the closures.

Dr. Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, concedes they did not see significant spread of the virus at restaurants and gyms through the people that they reached. But she said contact tracing efforts were not comprehensive enough for a reliable conclusion.

"In our best efforts, we reached 68% to 70% of the individuals that tested positive. So we don't have information about that other 30% to 35%,” she explained.

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said now that coronavirus has spread so far, the ability to get very specific information about location is no longer possible.

"When you have 9, 10, 11,000 new cases a day, our ability to do contact tracing and case investigation changes,” Levine said.

But she said they do know how it is spread, with the CDC and academics producing articles and evidence on the topic.

She added case investigations and contact tracing is now being prioritized to congregate care settings, such as long-term care facilities and schools.

"So to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, to corrections, to schools."