Emergency Preparedness Article 4: Contact Tracing

Information on Contact Tracing

During health care emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, contact tracing plays a key role in catching and controlling outbreaks. Due to its great importance in protecting communities, individuals should know how contact tracing works.

In a broad sense, contact tracing starts with a known or suspected case. Trained community workers interview this case, specifically to trace back who they may have had recent contact with. This could include family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and more (Feil). Those individuals who may have been exposed are contacted and interviewed about their symptomatic status, provided testing recommendations, and depending on the disease, are encouraged to refrain from interacting with others (Feil).

In Colorado, the state or local public health agency will contact you to provide you with guidance and resources. Public health will ask who you may have been in contact with and where you may have gone. From there, they’ll notify people who may have been exposed by you but will not give those individuals your identity. More information about contact tracing in Colorado, can be found here. Concerns about privacy are valid. The state of Colorado has put together a list in regard to contact tracing, safety, and privacy. This list along with more information can be found on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment site dedicated to COVID-19.

  • All contact tracers are trained in how to manage health and other sensitive information to protect your privacy.
  • Public health workers will state their name and organization if you are contacted.
  • It is important to note public health will never ask for your social security number of financial information!
  • Public health is currently not going “door to door.”
  • Only certain people at your local public health agency and the state health department can see your information.
  • Your health or personal identifying information will not be shared by public health without your permission.
  • Public health stores records securely.

Contact tracing is a helpful tool to stop the disease in its tracks. Additionally, the data gathered from contact tracings can assist epidemiologists in learning more about the disease and its transmissions patterns on a regional, national, and even global scale (Feil). For Coloradans, answer the phone call from public health if you are contacted! It is not required, but you are helping protect yourself and others. If you are a business, Salesforce has a beneficial resource, Health Cloud, to empower businesses to conduct contact tracing. You can learn more by visiting work.com.

Sources:

“Contact Tracing”

“The Ever-Growing Importance of Contact Tracing” Reviewed by: Darlene Bhavnani, MD, Epidemiologist, Written by: Lauryn Feil

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