1. Jeon, Seonghye PhD
  2. Rainisch, Gabriel MPH
  3. Lash, R. Ryan PhD
  4. Moonan, Patrick K. DrPH
  5. Oeltmann, John E. PhD
  6. Greening, Bradford Jr PhD
  7. Adhikari, Bishwa B. PhD
  8. Contact Tracing Impact Group
  9. Meltzer, Martin I. PhD


Context: The implementation of case investigation and contact tracing (CICT) for controlling COVID-19 (caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus) has proven challenging due to varying levels of public acceptance and initially constrained resources, especially enough trained staff. Evaluating the impacts of CICT will aid efforts to improve such programs.


Objectives: Estimate the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations averted by CICT and identify CICT processes that could improve overall effectiveness.


Design: We used data on the proportion of cases interviewed, contacts notified or monitored, and days from testing to case and contact notification from 14 jurisdictions to model the impact of CICT on cumulative case counts and hospitalizations over a 60-day period. Using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVIDTracer Advanced tool, we estimated a range of impacts by assuming either contacts would quarantine only if monitored or would do so upon notification of potential exposure. We also varied the observed program metrics to assess their relative influence.


Results: Performance by jurisdictions varied widely. Jurisdictions isolated between 12% and 86% of cases (including contacts that became cases) within 6 to 10 days after infection. We estimated that CICT-related reductions in transmission ranged from 0.4% to 32%. For every 100 remaining cases after other nonpharmaceutical interventions were implemented, CICT averted between 4 and 97 additional cases. Reducing time to case isolation by 1 day increased averted case estimates by up to 15 percentage points. Increasing the proportion of cases interviewed or contacts notified by 20 percentage points each resulted in at most 3 or 6 percentage point improvements in averted cases.


Conclusions: We estimated that CICT reduced the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among all jurisdictions studied. Reducing time to isolation produced the greatest improvements in impact of CICT.