July 1st, 2020
As our region continues the process of reopening there is still an emphasis on social distancing, wearing masks in public and avoiding large groups of people. An additional tool to help in the fight against the coronavirus that is recently getting more attention is contact tracing – a key component in helping prevent the spread of the disease.
CONTACT TRACING HAS WORKED BEFORE
First of all, contact tracing is not new. In fact, it has played an important role in helping prevent the spread of diseases like tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other transmittable diseases. Now, contact tracing is being utilized in the coronavirus battle.
Step One – A Positive Test
Contact tracing is trigged when someone tests positive for the coronavirus. Public health staff, such as a nurse, will contact the person and ask them about anyone they may have been in close contact with while they were infectious, which can start from 48 hours before they began to notice symptoms and last until the end of isolation guidelines.
Step Two – Gathering Names & Contact Information
The person who tested positive for the virus is asked to think about their activities and provides as many names and phone numbers of people who have been in close contact with them.
Step Three – Calling Those Who May Have Been Exposed
After the list of names has been complied a contact tracer will reach out to those who may have been exposed. For privacy reasons, the contact tracer WILL NOT share the name of the individual who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The contact tracer will tell the contact that they were exposed to the virus and will ask how they are feeling. The contact tracer will give the individual instructions to quarantine – staying at home and away from others – to help control the spread of the virus.
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU RECEIVE A CALL
If you receive a call from a contact tracer they may ask you to confirm your identity by verifying your birthdate, address or other identification. IMPORTANT NOTE: They will not ask for your social security number or any financial information. Any such call is fraudulent.
They will also ask how you are feeling and, as mentioned above, give you instructions to self-quarantine and watch for any symptoms.
SARA ALERT ENROLLMENT
Anyone who tests positive or receives a call from a contact tracer is encouraged to enroll in Sara Alert. Sara Alert enables individuals to enter their symptoms daily. Medical professionals can then review the symptoms and help connect individuals with the proper medical care if needed. Sara Alert is available through the internet, email, texts and phone calls.
For more information about Contact Tracing in Pennsylvania visit https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Contact-Tracing.aspx