CENTRAL VALLEY, Calif. (KGPE) – As contact tracing expands throughout the state and locally, residents could be getting a call from their local department of public health if they were in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
“We also now as we reopen our economy must be able to contact individuals that have tested positive and make sure that those they’ve come in contact with that could test positive are contacted in a very secure way and private way,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom during his daily briefing on Friday.
Contact tracing is a process that involves contacting every person someone with COVID-19 could have exposed.
In Fresno County, their contact tracing team is made up of 100 people.
Michael Flores, who co-leads the contact tracing team, said those who are determined to have had close contact with a positive case are those within the same household or someone who was within 6 ft. of them for more than 15 minutes.
Contact tracers are responsible for compiling a list of people the person who tested positive could have exposed. This is based on the information that the person provides, said Flores.
Once the list is compiled, the calls going out.
“We’re going to ask for them to identify themselves to make sure we’re talking to the right person, we’re going to ask the date of birth, email address, mailing address and then go into more specifics, are you experiencing any symptoms common in COVID?” said Flores.
Other questions involve health status and if the person has any underlying health conditions.
Flores said the information provided is confidential and immigration status is not something that will be asked.
In Tulare County, Carrie Monteiro, the public information officer for the Health & Human Services Agency, said people are sometimes skeptical when they receive a call from a contact tracer. In that case, they tell them to call the 211 helpline, a phone line Monteiro said more people in the community trust.
“If an individual gets called and they’re a little hesitant, wondering if they really are speaking to a contact tracer, we encourage them to reach out to 211 and go through that process to check that they are legitimately in contact with the county public health department,” Monteiro said.
Flores said in Fresno County, if someone is doubtful, they ask them to call the county department of public health line.
Once they’ve asked the questions, they’ll be ordered to either quarantine or self-isolate.
Monteiro said contact tracing is essential in order to help beat the virus.
“We are looking to get name and contacts so we can further spread our investigations to find out any potential exposures so we get individuals quarantined, we get those that need to get tested tested, and we get individuals who need medical attention the medical attention they need for this virus,” Monteiro said.
COVID-19 resource links:
- Fresno County
- Tulare County
- Madera County
- Mariposa County
- Merced County
- Kings County
- Kern County
- World Health Organization
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- California Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response