Have you received a call stating that you were around someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and you need to self isolate? If you have, or you know someone who has, this is called contact tracing. Below, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about it.
What is Contact Tracing?
Contact tracing is essentially detective work. Experts have to break down the chains of transmission to manage epidemics and pandemics to prevent future waves or surges of cases. It helps us to get back to work and live a normal way of life much quicker.
As soon as a contact tracer finds out someone is positive for a virus or infection, those people are isolated and kept away from other people. Then, the contact tracer works on a spider web of other people that had been in contact with that person over a certain period of time.
Basically, contact tracing is finding out everyone a person who has tested positive for a virus has been around. Two critical factors in contact tracing for Coronavirus is finding the infected people and then locating the people they could have infected and let them know of their exposure.
Contact tracing has actually been done a number of times for different infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and HIV.
How Did They Get My Name and Number?
The contact tracers will get your name from a person who has tested positive. They may also get your phone number from that person as well. Or, they will use your name to find your number and call you.
When they call you, they can’t tell you who was positive. They can only tell you that you were around someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.
What Questions Will I Get Asked
When you are called for contact tracing, the ONLY questions you will be asked is to verify your identity and if you are having or have had any symptoms. Contact tracers will NOT ask for any financial or other personal information.
Is the Contact Tracing Call Legit?
Because people like to take advantage of others and rip people off anyway they can, there are scammers out there trying to get other information as well as money. If you get a call and the person tries to sign you up for a test you have to pay for or tries to get your credit card information, it is a scam.
The LEGIT text message or phone call you will get will be from the State Department of Health. In some states, you will get a text message first that says they are trying to reach you about an important matter regarding your health and to call a certain number. You may want to look up the phone number for YOUR State Department of Health so you know if it is legit.
Additionally, if you are unsure of a number, you can simply type the number into the Google search box and see what pops up. If it is not a State Department of Health number, do not call back.
For more information on avoiding contact tracing scammers, visit the Federal Trade Commision Consumer Information.
Do I Have to Self Isolate?
Even though you may not have any symptoms at all, you will be asked to quarantine yourself for 14-days, as well as monitor your symptoms. The reason they will ask you to quarantine is that with any infectious disease, people can infect others before they start experiencing symptoms themselves. So, to make sure you don’t infect others, you are asked to stay home.
Will I Get More Contact Tracing Calls?
After your first initial contact, you will get contacted daily either by email or phone for the duration of the 14-days. This is to assess your signs and symptoms for a certain time period. In many states, if you get a text and do not respond, you will then be contacted by a phone call.
Will I Need to Get Tested?
If you develop symptoms, you will be asked to get tested. Obviously, nobody can make you get a test if you don’t want to. However, in some states, they are holding people to the quarantine policies. It may be in your best interest to get tested.
If you take a test and test positive, you will be asked to self isolate in your home. Anyone who is in your home will be considered a close contact and will be expected to quarantine too. In addition, you may be asked to give names of people you have been around for contact tracing.
If you test negative, you will probably still be asked to quarantine for the full 14-days.
Is Contact Tracing on My Phone?
There are new mobile contact tracing technologies that are aimed at minimizing the spread of COVID-19. There are many claims flying around Facebook that Google has automatically updated all Android devices with a tracing app.
However, even though the apps have been installed on your phone, you must opt in to use them. The apps use a new technology to track other users who are in the proximity of someone for at least 5-minutes who has tested positive for the virus using Bluetooth technology. Again, participation in this app is completely voluntary.
To clarify, Apple and Google did recently add exposure notifications to devices under settings, however, the contact tracing technology works only if the person opts in and enables the notifications. Additionally, Apple and Google have both said that privacy is an essential part of the contact tracing technology.
How it Works
With your consent, if you test positive for COVID-19, anyone who was near you in the last 14-days will be notified on their smartphone that they have potentially been exposed. The notification will read as follows: “You have recently come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Tap for more information.”
Obviously, the effectiveness of this technology greatly depends on who opts in and who doesn’t. So, even if you do opt-in, someone around you that contacted the virus may not have opted in, and therefore, you will not be notified.
Public health officials believe that contact tracing is one of the best ways to stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus. They have decided this is better than asking us to stay home indefinitely. However, some of us value our privacy and don’t want to be contacted if we were around people with the virus. If you want to remain out of the contact tracing agenda, here are some things you can do:
- Ask anyone you are around to not give out your name to anyone regardless of testing positive for coronavirus.
- Be sure you did not opt into the contact tracing app. Go to settings, then Google (Google settings), and then click on COVID-19 exposure notifications and make sure it says “OFF.”
- Stay away from people as much as you can. The best way to stay under the radar is to not be around other people.
Related: Pandemics: What You Should Do Now
Remember, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and always prepare for the worst and hope for the best! May God bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: COVID Contact Tracing Deposit photos_377044418_s-2019