What information does a contact tracer need?

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jackie Winchester
Credit: Pixabay

Do you remember who you came into contact with at the grocery store? Or who your food delivery driver was?

Contact tracing is a new concept, and it’s something that will be needed as Southwest Florida begins to reopen.

But what exactly will you need to remember?

All the questions can get overwhelming, but you only need to remember the last 48 hours.

Kim Berg of Naples said she wants to be ready.

“I would be concerned if I had been out there and somebody knocked on my door from the health department and said we’re contract tracing because you were here and here and then I wouldn’t be able to remember where I was,” she said.

“If our goal is to help stop the spread, it would be nice if we were prepared when we are asked the questions.”

The Florida Department of Health in Collier County said if you were to contract COVID-19, you’d only need to know your close contacts from the past two days.

“Those close contacts are referred to as anybody who has been within six feet of a person for 10 minutes or more,” said Kristine Hollingsworth with the Florida Department of Health in Collier County.

Usually, a close contact is someone you live with or have spent a lot of time with.

“More than likely, if you are at the grocery store you would not be talking to someone for longer than 10 minutes in a six-foot area,” Hollingsworth said.

Being as specific as you can under those guidelines is very helpful.

“We can go as far as 30 people deep in a contact tracing investigation.”

The more people they can contact trace, the slower the spread could be.

“It’s going to be helpful since we don’t know who has it or if we’ve even had it,” Berg said.

And trying to remember the past 48 hours could be hard as well, but there are a few different COVID-19 tracking apps that can help you remember where you’ve been and how long you were there.

What is contact tracing and why is it important?

People in close contact with someone who is infected with a virus, such as the Ebola virus, are at higher risk of becoming infected themselves, and of potentially further infecting others.

Closely watching these contacts after exposure to an infected person will help the contacts to get care and treatment, and will prevent further transmission of the virus.

This monitoring process is called contact tracing, which can be broken down into 3 basic steps:

Contact identification: Once someone is confirmed as infected with a virus, contacts are identified by asking about the person’s activities and the activities and roles of the people around them since onset of illness. Contacts can be anyone who has been in contact with an infected person: family members, work colleagues, friends, or health care providers.

Contact listing: All persons considered to have contact with the infected person should be listed as contacts. Efforts should be made to identify every listed contact and to inform them of their contact status, what it means, the actions that will follow, and the importance of receiving early care if they develop symptoms. Contacts should also be provided with information about prevention of the disease. In some cases, quarantine or isolation is required for high-risk contacts, either at home or in a hospital.

Contact follow-up: Regular follow-up should be conducted with all contacts to monitor for symptoms and test for signs of infection.

*Source – World Health Organization

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