Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Contact tracers in two North Carolina counties have struggled to get COVID-19-positive patients to cooperate with investigations to notify people of their potential exposure to the virus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report released Tuesday.
Using the contact information the participants provided, contact tracers were unable to reach 25% to 48% of people potentially exposed.
The CDC's report is based on a review of contact tracing in Mecklenburg and Randolph counties between June 1 and July 12.
In Mecklenburg County, contact tracers attempted to investigate 5,514 people with confirmed cases of coronavirus, 48% of whom said they didn't come into contact with anyone. For those who did provide contact information of the people they came into contact with, investigators were able to establish contact with 75% of those acquaintances.
In Randolph County, contact tracers investigated 584 people with coronavirus, 35% of whom said they didn't come into contact with anyone. Investigators were able to contact 52% of the acquaintances for whom information was provided.
"The relatively low participation and cooperation with contact tracing suggests a lack of community support and engagement with contact tracing," the CDC said. "This, coupled with delays in testing results are contributing to ongoing transmission."
The CDC said the percentage of people in both counties who said they didn't come into contact with anyone was high compared with other infectious diseases contact tracers investigated before the pandemic.
The agency said this may be because it's hard for contact tracers to establish a rapport with people over the telephone, and the patients may have worried about subjecting their acquaintances to quarantine measures.
The CDC said the results from its study of the two counties is comparable to other locations in the United States. Maryland and New Jersey, for example, said 50% and 52% of cases, respectively, report having no contacts.