With COVID-19 cases continuing to grow in Utah, contact tracing is a priority for health departments around the state. But what exactly can you expect if a contact tracer calls you?
“There's two parts to contact tracing. There is a contact tracing where we call somebody who actually does have COVID-19. And the types of questions we ask those people are related to symptoms, the contacts they've been around and places that they possibly visited,” said Estee Hunt, a coordinator for the Bear River Health Department’s COVID-19 Division.
“Then the second part of contact tracing is where we actually reach out to the contacts of the person that tested positive. And we ask questions about the dates and times that they spent with the positive case, if they've had any symptoms, and then we go ahead and inform them of the importance of voluntarily practicing quarantine during the incubation period of the disease,” Hunt said.
Data from the investigations is stored in a secure Utah Department of Health database and used to enter disease reports, investigate current outbreaks, and even identify new outbreaks. Although some people argue that contact tracing is a violation of privacy, Hunt stresses that there is no penalty for refusing to comply with a contact tracer in the state of Utah.
“The patient has the right to refuse investigation. If they do agree to take part in the investigation, we ask them if they would actually not like their name shared with those that we contact. We definitely would respect that; we’re very careful to protect the privacy of the patient. And there is no repercussions that come from the health department for those who do not comply to the investigation,” Hunt said.