You’ve heard a lot of talk about contact tracing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But do you know what it means? As we move to slowly reopen parts of our community, the increased interaction and likely surge in positive cases will mean contact tracing becomes even more important. Here’s what it’s all about.
Contact tracing is the act of trained public health staff reaching out to individuals who may have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive or is suspected to have COVID-19. The CDC defines “close contact” as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 10 minutes starting from as early as 48 hours before illness onset.
If you are exposed to someone infected with COVID-19, a public health staff member will reach out to you to let you know of your exposure and to provide you with education and support to understand your risk. You’ll learn how to best monitor your health going forward and you’ll will be encouraged to stay home and away from others for a period of 14 days. This is the incubation period for the virus. If after 14 days you still have no symptoms, you can then go back to following whatever the current community guidelines are for work and social interaction.
It’s important to consider all of this when you make decisions for how you will interact with your community. If you become infected (or are infected and don’t know it), how many people will you have come into close contact with over the past few days and therefore, possibly infected? It’s our responsibility to keep our family, friends, and fellow community members safe. Continue to stay home if you can, practice social distancing, and always wear a mask when you’re out in public.