Contact Tracing and Disease Investigations
If you are contacted by a contact tracer, note that they will NOT ask for your social security number or bank information. If you have concerns about whether a call is legitimate, contact your local health department.
What is "contact tracing?"
Case investigation and contact tracing is a specialized skill that has been a normal practice of the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission No. 1 and other health departments around the world for decades. The purpose is to stop the spread of a disease by identifying who an infected person potentially spread the disease to. Health departments use contact tracing in Measles, HIV, tuberculosis and in stopping other communicable diseases like COVID-19.
What is case investigation?
- Case investigation is part of the process of supporting patients with suspected or confirmed infection.
- In case investigation, public health staff work with a patient to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the timeframe while they may have been infectious. Public health staff may also determine the intial or main point of contangion.
What are the core principles of contract tracing?
- Public health staff begin contact tracing by warning these exposed individuals (contacts) of their potential exposure as rapidly and sensitively as possible.
- To protect patient privacy, contacts are only informed that they may have been exposed to a patient with the infection. They are not told the identity of the patient who may have exposed them.
- Contacts are provided with education, information, and support to understand their risk, what they should do to separate themselves from others who are not exposed, monitor themselves for illness, and the possibility that they could spread the infection to others even if they themselves do not feel ill.
- In regards to COVID-19, contacts are encouraged to stay home and maintain social distance from others (at least 6 feet) until 14 days after their last exposure, in case they also become ill. They should monitor themselves by checking their temperature twice daily and watching for cough or shortness of breath. To the extent possible, public health staff may check in with contacts to make sure they are self-monitoring and have not developed symptoms. Contacts who develop symptoms should promptly isolate themselves and notify public health staff. They should be promptly evaluated for infection and for the need for medical care. (Isolate vs. Quarantine Defined)
What happens if I get a call from a contact tracer?
If you test positive, a COVID Contact Tracer will contact you and work with you to identify anyone you’ve been in contact with while you were infectious. The tracer will contact those people you identify as exposed individuals via phone, or potentially email or text and ask them about symptoms, to monitor their health and ask them to quarantine.
People who have come in close contact with someone who is positive are asked to stay home and limit their contact with others. By staying home during this time, IF you become sick yourself, you have not infected many others along the way. This is how we stop the spread! Testing, medical and quarantine support for the exposed individuals and their loved ones will be arranged.
We will not release your name to anyone. Your information is strictly confidential and will be treated as a private medical record. This nation-leading program will be implemented in coordination with New York and Connecticut.
Please answer the phone so we can keep NJ moving forward and stop the spread of COVID-19!