More Than Half of People With COVID Don't Know This One Very Important Thing

Survey results indicate better contact tracing is needed to stop the spread, CDC says.

Coronavirus has proved extremely difficult to contain, as is evident by the record number of new cases recently reported in the U.S. From reopening too soon to poor social distancing to ineffective testing, there are a number of factors contributing to the recent spike. And according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), another major issue is how many people with COVID-19 don't know where, when, or by whom they were infected. The CDC found that 54 percent of infected individuals were unable to identify recent contact with another person they knew to be sick with coronavirus.

Between April 15 and May 24 of this year, CDC researchers conducted a telephone survey of 350 adults who tested positive for COVID-19. Participants resided in nine states, had varied demographic backgrounds, and were a mix of both inpatients and outpatients who had been infected. Results showed that of the 350 individuals surveyed, only 46 percent reported recent contact with a COVID-19 patient, meaning that one in two could not identify a person with coronavirus with whom they had close contact within the two weeks prior to testing positive themselves.

Contact tracing

According to the results, with the participants that did have knowledge of prior contact with an infected individual, that person was most often a family member (45 percent) or a coworker (34 percent). Otherwise, most respondents were unclear as to how they were infected. This fact, along with the spectrum of symptoms respondents gave, are what the CDC says are the biggest road blocks to effectively identifying, isolating, and containing the virus.

"The wide range of symptoms reported, and the lack of known COVID-19 contact in 54 percent of patients, underscores the need for isolation of infected persons, contact tracing, and testing during ongoing community transmission, and prevention measures including social distancing and use of cloth face coverings," CDC personnel said in the report.

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Many of the prevention methods mentioned by the CDC have not always succeeded in achieving widespread results. A significant number of people still refuse to wear masks, the country's top medical experts say contact tracing efforts have been underwhelming so far, and testing continues to be riddled with problems—all of which has led to a massive number of new cases and driven states to pause or put off reopening plans. And for more on contracting coronavirus, You Can Catch COVID-19 Even If Someone This Far From You Coughs.

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