If you get a call from a number you don’t recognize, don’t ignore it — it might be an official contact tracer during this pandemic.
The person on the other end could be calling from the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency to inform you of possible exposure to COVID-19.
As of Sunday, the county had 384 “disease detectives” on staff and plans to ultimately have 450. The majority of the team work to trace the contacts of a person who is confirmed to have the disease.
Contact tracing by local and state health departments a classic method for controlling infectious disease that has been used for decades.
When a case is confirmed, an investigator will first identify all close contacts who may have been exposed. The contact tracers take it from there and attempt to get in touch with all of those contacts so that they can self-quarantine while watching for symptoms of COVID-19.
If you don’t answer the call, the contact tracer should leave a voicemail message. Call the contact tracer back because they need to know that you have isolated yourself and who you have had close contact with.
The contact tracer will identify themselves as being part of the county, and all information gathered during the contact tracing effort is kept confidential.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a close contact is someone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before symptoms developed in the case until the time the patient was isolated.
Until a vaccine is available, contact tracing will be a key part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the region.
The County News Service contributed to this article.
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