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Trace

Lady wearing a mask
Department of Health and Human Services

Trace

Just taking a call can save lives

We can’t stop the spread of COVID-19 alone. We have to do it together. The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people. To break the chain of infection, we’re calling individuals who have been exposed. The process is called contact tracing and it has been used to control diseases for decades. But you have to answer the phone for it to work.

How does contact tracing work?

It starts with people with confirmed or suspected infections. Public health staff reach out and ask about close contacts they’ve had during the time they may have been infectious. Contact tracers then call individuals who may have been exposed as quickly and sensitively as possible.

Click here to find out what happens after you’re tested.

Contacts are given information and support to understand their risk and how to keep others safe. They’re asked to monitor for their symptoms, to isolate, and seek help if they become ill.

The calls are confidential. Contact tracers protect the privacy of patients and contacts. They don’t give the name of the patient, only that they may have been exposed to someone with the infection.

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What can I expect if I get a call?

If a positive Covid-19 patient provides information about their close contacts, those individuals may receive a call from a contact tracer to check in on their health, answer questions, and offer resources. 

If you were exposed to a person who tested positive, you need to conduct symptom monitoring for 10 days; as well as test at least five full days after your last exposure. Test even if you don’t develop symptoms. If you test too early, you may be more likely to get an inaccurate result. Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days from the date of last exposure to protect others and avoid unmasked activities, or activities with higher risk of exposing vulnerable individuals, for 10 days from the date of last exposure.

How can I trust the caller?

  • Health department tracers will never ask you for personal identification like your Social Security Number, driver’s license or credit card information.  
  • If a caller claims to be working for the health department and asks for personal identification or financial information, it is likely a scam.  

Who is considered a contact?

Contact (also called close contact) is when a person is exposed to someone with COVID-19 less than 6 feet apart for as little as 15 minutes. This includes brief encounters totaling 15 minutes or more in a 24 hour period.