Contact tracing centers around community engagement through the provision of education and communication to increase public awareness of how to protect individuals and their communities, as well as providing awareness of how to stop disease transmission.

Contact tracing is the process of notifying people (contacts) of their potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, providing information about the virus and discussing their symptom history and other relevant health information.

Contact tracing gives instructions for self-quarantine and monitoring for symptoms. It also offers the infected person support and referrals to testing, clinical services and other essential support services are provided, as indicated.

For contact tracing to be most effective, it should be carried out as soon after diagnosis as possible. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will likely be contacted quickly by a public health professional to initiate contact tracing.

It is important to remember, though, that not being contacted for contact tracing does not mean you did not test positive or that you cannot transmit COVID-19. Proper precautions, such as social distancing, regular handwashing and wearing a mask, should still be taken.

“Preventing and controlling COVID-19 in communities across Florida requires strong collaboration between the DOH and the many partners involved, directly or indirectly, with impacting public health outcomes,” said Kevin Walter of the Florida Department of Health. “Contact tracing centers around community engagement through the provision of education and communication to increase public awareness of how to protect individuals and their communities, as well as providing awareness of how to stop disease transmission. Contact tracing activities should be inclusive of all populations and available to all communities.”

Contact tracing can be broken down into five vital steps. Step one is case identification, prioritization and surveillance triage. Step two is case investigation. Step three is contact elicitation. Step four is contact notification. Step five is contact monitoring.

“There may be instances when COVID-19 patients have difficulty recalling close contacts or they are unavailable for inquiry,” Walter said. “Social network information, setting-based investigations and proxy interview methods will be needed to supplement the contact list. In lieu of the ability to speak to the patient, details to inform case investigation and contact tracing may be gleaned from healthcare providers or legal proxies as available.”

To learn more about COVID-19 contact tracing or other COVID-19 information, visit the Florida Department of Health’s website at www.floridahealth.gov.