FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – In recent weeks, cases of coronavirus in Indiana have increased. With the latest nail, contact tracking is becoming more common and contact trackers work around the clock to notify those who have come in contact with someone who has tested for the virus.
“Quarantine and isolation are two of the biggest tools we have right now to fight COVID-19,” said Erika Pitcher, Allen County Department of Health’s Director of Public Health and Case Management Services. “We can socially distance ourselves, we can mask, we can do all kinds of things but really if we stay home when we should, it’s one of the biggest ways to prevent future transfer. The best way to make it successful is to talk to each individual case, find out their contacts and make sure the case and their contacts stay at home. The only way we can do that is if people answer their phones. ”
When a person is tested for the virus, that test is analyzed in a laboratory. Labs then reports all positive COVID-19 tests to a national online database. Thereafter, the health departments receive a report every morning on all new positive cases for that day.
Contract trackers then split the cases and start calling those who have tested positive. During the call, trackers will ask the person several questions, collect this data and then begin to map out where the person was exposed to COVID-19.
When a person tests positive, they will receive a call from their local health department and a text from the state of Indiana’s health department. It is important that these calls are answered. During a visit to Fort Wayne on Friday, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams encouraged residents to pick up the phone if they receive a call from the health department and answer the questions in a truthful manner.
County Health Department Tracker
If a person tests positive for COVID-19, contact trackers with the county in which the individual lives will contact the person by phone. When contact tracker with the health department reaches out, the telephone number will be local and often shows the county’s health department on caller ID.
Allen County has 7 contact trackers, including Pitcher. Since March, contact trackers have worked 7 days a week to ensure that someone affected is reported. It is likely that a person will get a call on a weekend or even in the evening.
“Do not let the day of the week or the time of day make you believe that this is not a legitimate conversation,” Pitcher said. “We work quite a lot around the clock to make sure we get matters contacted.”
Pitcher says the department’s goal is to contact a person the same day they receive it. Once a case has been contacted, trackers will go through several pages of questions.
Officials will begin by asking the person what symptoms they had when they began during their infectious period, and review how the virus can affect the person if they have a pre-existing medical condition.
Tracers also ask the person where they think they were exposed to the virus, where they work and who they have been with during the infectious period. They can also ask for your telephone number and address to not only ensure that your contact information is correct, but also that you are contacted by the right county health department.
The health department is coming Never ask for monetary information such as your social security number or your medical record number. Contact trackers also follow strict confidentiality laws and may only share information if necessary to find out who was exposed.
“For example, if John is on the basketball team, we may need to notify the basketball coach so the coach can help us find out which players on the team were exposed,” Pitcher said. “The players would never know it was John. Just that coach. ”
If a person has been exposed, contact tracers would call the person and let them know that they may have been exposed to the virus, the date they were exposed and when and for how long they would need to remain in quarantine.
State Department of Health Tracker
Indiana’s contact tracking software includes both text messaging and phone calls.
When a person takes a COVID-19 test on a government website, they will be informed that they will be notified of the results via text and / or telephone calls.
According to Indiana State Department of Health officials, if a person tests positive, they will receive a text message from the state asking them to call 1-833-670-0067 for more information. If the person does not answer, the contact tracker will follow up with a telephone call. If the person does not answer, the department will leave a voicemail if the mailbox is set and can take messages. If the person is not reached on the first day, a written letter is then sent to the individual asking them to contact the call center.
When a state contact tracker makes an outgoing call for contract tracking purposes, the caller ID will be displayed as IN HEALTH or 1-833-670-0067. Contact tracking involves asking questions about symptoms and exposures to other people, including in the workplace. Like the county, health officials will ask you to verify your identity but will do so. not ask for financial or other personal information such as a social security number.
During Comrade Eric Holcomb’s weekly steak on Wednesday, Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box Hoosiers on the importance of answering the contact tracker’s phone calls and text messages.
Pitcher said that both the state and county health departments are here to help and are great resources for anyone with questions or those who need documentation.
“It’s a lot more than just collecting information from you,” Pitcher said. “It tries to find out how we can help everyone in this situation and make sure that we make it a comfortable environment for you to be at home during your isolation period and your contacts to stay at home during their quarantine period which minimizes the effect on them.”
Click here to learn more about contact tracking.