Contact Tracing Saves Lives


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Contact Tracing Saves Lives

By now, we’ve all heard about COVID-19. It’s everyone’s responsibility to help make sure this virus does not continue to spread. One important tool to help reduce the spread is called contact tracing. Health departments have successfully used contact tracing for decades to contain diseases like tuberculosis and smallpox.

What is contact tracing? Contact tracing identifies who an infected person may have exposed to the virus. Once those people are notified, they can quarantine to avoid spreading the disease to other people.

How does contact tracing work? When someone tests positive for COVID-19, it’s reported to their public health department. A contact tracer is assigned to the case. First, the contract tracer calls the infected person to make sure they self-isolate. Next, they ask where the infected person has been during a specific time period when they may have exposed others. Finally, they inform those people that they may have been exposed and that they need to quarantine and watch for symptoms.

What should you do if a contact tracer calls you? Most importantly, answer the phone, especially if your caller ID says something like county health department or contact tracer. The tracer will identify themselves and ask you to confirm your name and birthdate, so they know they’re talking to the right person. A legitimate contact tracer won’t ever ask for your social security or credit card numbers. Your personal identifying information will not be shared publicly or with any of the people you’ve been in contact with.

What will they ask? They’ll ask a few simple questions, like when you first noticed symptoms and whether you’ve been tested. Your answers help them figure out the period of time that you could have spread COVID-19 to others and how long you’ll need to isolate. If you’ve been tested, you may have already heard from your doctor. But it’s common for the contact tracer to be the one to tell you that your test was positive. They understand this may be upsetting news. They’re trained to provide support and will help you plan what to do next. Contact tracers will ask about anyone you’ve been in contact with, like the people you live with and anyone else you’ve seen recently. They especially need to know about anyone you’ve been in close contact with, like anyone you’ve been within 6 feet of for more than 15 minutes. Or had physical contact with, like anyone you’ve, hugged, kissed, or high-fived. They’ll also ask about any places you’ve visited like stores, restaurants, or places of worship. Going through your calendar, journal, social media, or phone can help you remember the details. Finally, the tracer will give you isolation instructions. They’ll help you figure out how to get supplies, groceries, and support services, and if necessary, how and when to get medical care. They’ll also check up on you regularly and monitor your symptoms to let you know when you no longer need to isolate or quarantine.

Do you have to answer the contact tracer’s questions? You won’t be forced to answer or be penalized for not answering, but by providing as much information as possible, you’re protecting your friends, family, and community and helping to stop COVID-19.

So, answer the call. Do your part to save lives.

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Finity Communications Incorporated is not a licensed medical care provider and represents that it has no expertise in diagnosing, examining, or treating medical conditions of any kind, including infectious diseases. The information offered in this video is designed for educational purposes only. You are strongly encouraged to speak with your physician, healthcare provider, or your local health department if you have questions about COVID-19 or contact tracing.