A first insight on COVID-19 contact tracing in Maryland

I may have missed when the data was first released but I discovered the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) is publishing some data about COVID-19 contact tracing (in Maryland). This data is not on the main COVID-19 dashboard but on the contact tracing page (and in the datasets that can be downloaded). Here is a first insight of what happened so far …

Note: if you just look for where to get tested in Maryland, the official information is here.

Cumulative total of confirmed COVID-19 cases contacted in Maryland, USA, 2020

On the graph above, one can see that, up to the week ending on July 25, a bit more than 19,000 COVID-19 cases were recorded in covidLINK, Maryland’s contact tracing initiative. However, only a bit more than 18,000 of these cases had a phone number registered and only 11,504 were successfully interviewed (this take into account people who refused to be interviewed, who cannot be accessed, etc.). If the number of cases registered and the ultimate number of cases interviewed keep increasing (something good), one should remember that, on July 25, Maryland counted 83,054 positive cases (reported in ESSENCE). This leads us to only 22% of all positive cases were reported in covidLINK (blue bars below) and only 13% of all positive cases were interviewed (pink bars below). These trends increased (good) but if only 1/7th of all cases are interviewed, that’s not a lot and we are missing a lot of potential transmissions.

Cumulative metrics for successful contact tracing in Maryland (COVID-19)

The MDH also report some information on contacts from these cases. One can see below that more and more contacts are … contacted (!) and their interviews are also increasing. At the end of the week (ending on) July 25, 24,260 contacts were registered by all cases and 11,816 of these contacts were interviewed. If cases who are also contacts are not counted in the two datasets, it’s so far a total of more than 23,000 cases and contacts who were interviewed for their symptoms and contacts in relation to COVID-19!

Cumulative total of contacts of COVID-19 cases in Maryland, USA

Now, we reach an average of 2.85 contacts declared by positive case (that’s not a lot! The covidLINK FAQ doesn’t mention how far in the past contact tracers go back, just that they “may ask about your whereabouts for a specific period of time”). And on average, 1.39 contact per case are interviewed …

Number of contacts of COVID-19 cases that were contacted in Maryland

That’s a already gigantic work that has been done by the 1,350 contact tracers! More resource and more cooperation will increase these metrics (and it’s badly needed!). But that’s already a first look at the necessary contact tracing operation in Maryland.

To be continued …

As usual, you’ll find other graphs on my page about COVID-19 in Maryland (and figures above are updated with new data as they appear) and the data, code and figures are on Github (including these ones).