Contact Tracing And COVID-19

June 11, 2020

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Woman at a desk on the phone
Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

Tracking The Virus

As states across the country move into the phases of re-opening businesses during the current COVID-19 pandemic, many epidemiologists, doctors, and public health officials alike have recommended the use of contact tracing to slow the spread of disease once businesses open and people return to work. 

So, what exactly is contact tracing? Contact tracing is simply the identification of people who may have been exposed to or in contact with someone who has a confirmed case of an infectious disease - in this case, COVID-19.

Contact tracers are the ones who run the system to keep track of who is sick and those they have been in contact with. After being notified of a sick person, a contact tracer will interview them by phone to get a list of names of the people that person was in contact with in the 14-days leading up to their symptoms. Then, they will reach out to those contacts (while maintaining confidentiality) to notify them that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and that they should socially distance as much as possible for the 14-day incubation period of the virus.

Though it may seem quite complicated, contact tracing can be very effective. Recently, it was used to slow the spread of Ebola in West Africa during the epidemic in 2014. This is a new world we are emerging into, and the public health system in this country will be ramping up to make some changes. To learn more about contact tracing, check out the CDC webpage.

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