What is coronavirus contact tracing?

May 19, 2020


Some people are getting anxious for the country to reopen. They want to get back to work. They want to go out to restaurants and basically return to their normal lives.

Health experts say that's all likely to be more successful if states can offer widespread testing for the coronavirus, followed up by contact tracing. But you may be wondering how contact tracing works.

What's contact tracing?

Contact tracing aims to close the loop around an infected person and their contacts. It helps prevent further spread of infection. It's been used successfully to control other illnesses like tuberculosis and SARS.

Contact tracing starts with the identification of someone who tests positive for COVID-19. That person is asked to recall their steps over the last few days. They'll be asked who they came into close contact with since they became sick. Contacts can include anyone who has been around an ill person, including:

  • Family members
  • Coworkers
  • Friends
  • Health care providers

Everyone on the list of contacts will be notified of their contact status. They'll be told what it means and the steps that will be taken next. Those steps could include:

  • Quarantining all contacts
  • Watching them for signs of illness
  • Regularly testing them for infection

What happens if you're identified as a coronavirus contact?

If you're identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19, you may be asked to quarantine at home or possibly at a hospital if you're at high risk.

You may also be asked to take your temperature often. And you should stay at least 6 feet from others at all times.

Concerned you may have been exposed to COVID-19? Contact your primary care provider to talk about your risks and possible testing. If you don't have a primary care provider, now is a great time to establish with Adventist Health Medical Group. Find a provider near you and schedule a visit as soon as tomorrow.