Nurse Pam: Contact Tracing 101
Contact tracing has been used for years by public health departments to limit the spread of viruses including measles, mumps, diphtheria, and many others. So, how exactly is contact tracing done?
In the case that an individual tests positive for the virus, a representative from the department of health will reach out to the ill person and ask a series of questions:
- When did you first have signs and symptoms of COVID-19?
- Did you share food or drinks with anyone the 2 days before you felt sick or while you were sick?
- Did you share a car, ride a bus, etc. in the two days before you felt sick or while you felt sick?
- Who have you been in close contact with the 48 hours (2 days) before you felt sick and after you started not feeling well?
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) describes “close contact” as:
- Anyone who has been within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period or had expose to the person’s respiratory secretions while they were contagious.
The period when someone is contagious as defined by the VDH is:
- Starting 2 days before the person becomes ill, or 2 days before they are tested if they never had symptoms.
In order for contact tracing to work, we all need to do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by keeping track of the people we have been around. There are a couple ways to do that. Our SMART phones can be a big help if you chose to download a tracking APP. Another simple way to track the people you have been around is a good old fashion pen and notebook.
Benefits of Contact Tracing
Given current conditions, we have been asked to limit what we do and who we see. At the end of the day, you can simply take out your notebook and start writing down everyone you were with for more than 15 minutes that day. You can help protect yourself and others by taking this simple step. This way if you hear of someone testing positive that you have been around you can look through the book to see if you were with them on their contagious days. You are also able to tell the health department exactly who you have been in contact if you become ill and test positive.
Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns at any time. I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend!
Pam Trompeter, RN