As countries around the world are continuing to ease what used to be considerably restrictive stay-at-home orders, governments are ramping up efforts for testing to ensure their citizens have necessary access to be checked for the virus. However, what happens when someone tests positive? Other than being required to quarantine for a specified amount of days, health departments will deploy contact tracing teams, when available, to identify those who may have come in contact or been exposed to a person that contracted COVID-19. Now, more than ever, there’s an increased importance for people’s willingness to participate in such an effort. 

While it may sound scary to hear that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, when people ignore contact tracing, they put themselves at a greater risk of unknowingly transmitting the virus to those around them. One study found that COVID-19 transmission could be reduced by nearly 64% through isolating those who have the coronavirus, quarantining their household, and contacting the people they may have exposed. However, contact tracing can only be effective when people are willing to participate. Here’s what to expect if you get a call from a contact tracer:

If you have COVID-19: contact tracers will try to get an idea of your activity outside of the home. If you haven’t left the house, the process is pretty simple with an easy recommendation to quarantine. However, if you have made trips in public, contact tracers will often review your calendar and ask questions to get an idea of where you’ve been, whom you’ve come in contact with and a timeline for how long you’ve spent around others. 

If you have been exposed to COVID-19: contact tracers will reach out to you to let you know of your risk of exposure to the virus. Generally, if you’re not displaying symptoms recommendations may include self-quarantining. Only when you are displaying symptoms would a contact tracer request additional contact details from you and highly recommend testing.

If you still have lingering concerns about a compromise to your personal privacy, fret not as the Federal Trade Commission has strict guidelines in place to protect you. However, if you receive a call and are uncertain of its legitimacy, know that a certified contact tracer would never ask you for: immigration status, social security number or any form of payment.

So, as businesses reopen their doors, travelers resume their plans and conferences toy with the idea of holding their live events sooner than expected, staying alert to potential attempts from contact tracers could make the difference in containment of the virus as we await a vaccine.

About the Author:

Khye Tucker is an Innovation Strategist in Columbus, OH. With a passion for writing and a background in communications, Khye strives to bring brand stories to life through a fresh perspective, innovative thinking and creative storytelling.