COVID 19: Understanding Contact Tracing What It Is How It Works and What To Expect

Did You Know? — Contact tracing is a core disease control activity. It has been used for decades by state and local health departments to slow or stop the spread of infectious disease. With more people being tested and getting results of having contracted the covid19 virus its important to know more about the followup via contact tracing . Here is what you need to understand about the process and why you should answer the call if a tracer reaches out. 
 
What is Contact Tracing?

Contact tracing is the process of contacting all people who’ve had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Contact Tracers have been hired and trained to work with state-of-the-art software to gather information on the spread of the infection. Your participation is confidential.

How the Contact Tracing Program Works

If you test positive, a COVID Contact Tracer will connect you with the support and resources you may need through quarantine, such as help getting groceries or household supplies, child care, medical care or supplies. 

This nation-leading program will place emphasis on areas with the highest rates of infection and on regions ready to open. The program will operate through the next flu season. It will be implemented in coordination with New Jersey and Connecticut. 

In New York State Your caller ID will say “NYS Contact Tracing” (518-387-9993).Please answer the phone so we can keep NY moving forward and stop the spread of COVID-19.

 Break Down Of The Contact Tracing Steps
 Person is answering a call from a contact tracer at the health department.

Generally, contact tracing includes the following steps:

  • Case investigation: Public health staff work with a patient to help them recall everyone they have had close contact with during the time they may have been infectious.
  • Contact tracing: Public health staff begin contact tracing by notifying exposed people (contacts) of their potential exposure as rapidly and sensitively as possible, not revealing the infected patient’s identity.
  • Contact support: Contacts are provided with education, information, and support to help them understand their risk, what they should do to separate themselves from others who are not exposed, and how to monitor themselves for illness. In addition, they are informed of the possibility that they could spread the infection to others even if they do not feel ill.
  • Self-quarantine: Contacts are encouraged to stay home, monitor their health, and maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others until 14 days after their last exposure to the infected patient, in case they also become ill.
What a Person Diagnosed with COVID19 Can Expect to Happen During Contact Tracing

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, a public health worker may call you to check-in on your health, discuss who you’ve been in contact with, and ask where you spent time while you may have been infectious and able to spread COVID-19 to others. You will also be asked to stay at home and self-isolate, if you are not doing so already.

  • Your name will not be revealed to those you may have exposed, even if they ask.
  • Self-isolation means staying at home in a specific room away from other people and pets and using a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Self-isolation helps slow the spread of COVID-19 and can help keep your family, friends, neighbors, and others you may come in contact with healthy.
  • If you need support or assistance while self-isolating, your health department or community organizations may be able to provide assistance.
  • Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If your symptoms worsen or become severe, you should seek medical care. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.
What a Close Contact Can Expect to Happen During Contact Tracing

If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, a public health worker might contact you to inform you that you’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

Someone who had close contact with a person with COVID-19 is talking to a contact tracer. The contact tracer is putting information in the computer and the contact is holding a thermometer.

You should stay at home and self-quarantine for 14 days, starting from the last day you were possibly exposed to COVID-19. The public health worker will help identify the dates of your self-quarantine. They can also provide resources about COVID-19 testing in your area.

  • Self-quarantine means staying home, monitoring your health, and maintaining social distancing (at least 6 feet) from others at all times.
  • If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a cloth face covering. This will help protect the people around you.
  • If you need support or assistance with self-quarantine, your health department or community organizations may be able to provide assistance.

You should take your temperature twice a day, watch for symptoms of COVID-19, and notify your health department if you have symptoms. You should also notify people you had close contact with recently if you become ill, so they can monitor their health. If your symptoms worsen or become severe, you should seek medical care. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.

*information for this article is collated from CDC and NYS.gov