Answer the Call

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Every minute counts when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. The virus spreads easily from person to person, even when an infected person doesn’t have symptoms. That’s why the Lake County Health Department uses contact tracing to identify and notify people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

If you test positive for COVID-19, or you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, expect a call from the Health Department. Do your part—answer the call.

IL COVID HELP (312) 777-1999

If you get a call from “IL COVID HELP” or (312) 777-1999, it is extremely important that you answer. The Health Department is trying to reach you. If you receive a message, please call back as soon as possible. Your response is critical to protecting your family, friends, and community.

How Does Contact Tracing Work?

On the Call

If you test positive for COVID-19, the Health Department will contact you. During the call a public health worker will:

  1. Determine who you’ve had close contact with recently (we will not share your identity with your close contacts).
  2. Answer any questions you have.
  3. Offer you additional support and resources.

Once the Health Department has the information needed, we will reach out to your close contacts to inform them that they were exposed, help them get tested, and stay safe. Contact tracing helps us save lives. People can quarantine and get tested to protect their loved ones and receive the medical care that they need.

Talking on Phone with Contact Tracer

After the Call

Be sure to follow the advice of public health staff. If a contact tracer suggests that you get tested, please do so as soon as possible. 

While you wait for your results: 

  • Stay home and avoid interacting with others for 14 days. A shortened 10-day quarantine period is acceptable if the person exposed to COVID-19 has NOT developed symptoms. 
  • Think back to where you went and who you saw. This will be helpful information in case your tests results come back positive.

If There's an Outbreak

During an outbreak, our teams work closely with the affected location and infected individuals to stop the spread. Calls or texts may at times come from a different phone number. If you receive a call or text from a contact tracer, please respond right away.

Beware of Contact Tracing Scams

Lake County officials are warning residents of contact tracing scams where criminals pretend to be contact tracers to steal vital information like social security numbers and banking information over the phone, via email, and text message. 


A contact tracer will ask about:

  • Symptoms and when they started 
  • Medical and travel history 
  • Others who live in the home 
  • Where you have been while possibly infectious 
  • Who you have spent time with while possibly infectious (your close contacts*) 
  • Date of birth, race and ethnicity, and address

A contact tracer will never:

  • Ask for your Social Security number
  • Ask for money, bank account or credit card numbers, or any other form of payment
  • Ask for your immigration status
  • Threaten consequences of not participating or answering questions

If you receive a suspicious call, text message, or email about contact tracing or exposure to COVID-19, you may call the Health Department’s Communicable Disease program at (847) 377-8130. Staff can help verify if you have been contacted by the Health Department.

If you believe you have been a victim of a contact tracing scam, please call the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office at (847) 377-3000, or your local police department.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing is a long-established, public health practice that has helped save countless lives. Public health workers reach out to people who tested positive as well as their close contacts. Contact tracers answer questions, offer guidance, and provide resources

Is contact tracing new?

The Lake County Health Department, as well as health departments around the world, have been using contact tracing successfully for decades to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, such as Ebola and HIV/AIDS. The COVID-19 pandemic affecting billions worldwide has put this little-known health practice on the global stage.

What is a close contact?  

A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days before getting tested) until the time the patient is isolated.

What happens to my health information?

Your private health information is secured and always kept completely confidential. No sensitive data like social security numbers is collected. We don’t exchange information with anyone, including law enforcement, credit collection, or immigration agencies. And, your name won’t be revealed to others, even your close contacts.