Contact Tracing...what is that? Becky Williams, RN

As we continue in Phase 2, the number of diagnosed cases of COVID-19 is increasing…YIKES!! As a member of the highly vulnerable group, this rattles my cage, and the questions of how contact tracing works, and what to do, are areas to learn about. Here is some information from the CDC that I hope will help you:

Contact tracing is used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious disease. In general, contact tracing involves identifying people who have an infectious disease (cases) and their contacts (people who may have been exposed) and working with them to interrupt disease transmission. For COVID-19, this includes asking cases to isolate and contacts to quarantine at home voluntarily.

Contact tracing for COVID-19 typically involves:

· Interviewing people with COVID-19 to identify everyone with whom they had close contact during the time they may have been infectious,

· Notifying contacts of their potential exposure,

· Referring contacts for testing,

· Monitoring contacts for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and

· Connecting contacts with services they might need during the self-quarantine period.

To prevent the further spread of disease, COVID-19 contacts are encouraged to stay home and maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others until 14 days after their last exposure to a person with COVID-19. Contacts should monitor themselves by checking their temperature twice daily and watching for symptoms of COVID-19.

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available).

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from the state or local health department.

Who is considered a close contact?

For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated.

What if I had on a cloth face covering around the person diagnosed with COVID-19? Am I still considered a close contact?

Yes, you are still considered a close contact even if you were wearing a cloth face covering while you were around someone with COVID-19. Cloth face coverings are meant to prevent someone from transmitting the disease to others, and not to protect someone from becoming infected.

What if I’ve been around someone who has been identified as a close contact?

If you have been around someone who was identified as a close contact to a person with COVID-19, you should closely monitor yourself for any symptoms of COVID-19. You do not need to self-quarantine.

What happens with my health information? Will my name be revealed by the person doing the contact tracing?

Discussions with health department staff are confidential. This means that your personal and medical information will be kept private and only shared with those who may need to know, like your health care provider.

Your name will not be revealed to those you came in contact with. The health department will only notify your close contacts that they might have been exposed to COVID-19. How data are collected, stored, and shared are specific to each state or jurisdiction.

What happens if someone who attended church at St. Luke’s is diagnosed, and I was there?

That is one reason why registering for Sunday services is so very important. You will be called and notified that someone who has been diagnosed was present, and to seek medical guidance. The name of the person who was diagnosed will be kept confidential.

The infection control measures recommended are so very, very important…wearing masks, keeping social distance, hand sanitizing and staying home if you don’t feel well..

are all part of loving one’s neighbor as oneself.

I hope this information has been of help! May we each continue to stay safe and healthy…and remember:


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