As Florida sets records for Covid-19 cases, health authorities often fail to do contact tracing


(CNN)When Shaila Rivera and her new husband returned home from their honeymoon and tested positive for Covid-19, they expected a phone call from their local health authorities in Florida asking for a list of people they’d been near so that contact tracing could begin.

The Riveras waited for that phone call. And waited. And waited. But the call never came.
“I was shocked,” said Rivera, a nurse who has since recovered from her bout with the virus.
Despite claims that Florida traces every case of Covid-19, a CNN investigation found that health authorities in Florida, now the nation’s No. 1 hotspot for the virus, often fail to do contact tracing, long considered a key tool in containing an outbreak.
Florida set a record for most coronavirus cases in the US in a single day on Saturday, with a total of 11,458, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and on Sunday, the state surpassed 200,000 Covid-19 cases.
Florida’s contact tracing challenges are indicative of how hard it is for states hard hit by Covid-19 to do proper contact tracing, which is a challenge even under the best of circumstances. The virus is so far along in states like Florida that it’s a seemingly Herculean task to track down every infected person and follow up with all their close contacts.
CNN spoke with 27 Floridians, or their family members, who’d tested positive for Covid-19. Of those, only five said they had received a call from health authorities asking for their contacts.
There are concerns about contact tracing nationally, not just in Florida. In an interview in June, CNN asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, how he thought contact tracing was going in the United States.
“I don’t think we’re doing very well,” he answered.