We are fortunate to have contact tracers working in and for our Nassau County to help fountain COVID. Support their work and inform others of their role.
WHAT IS CONTACT TRACING?
Contact Tracing is a tool used in public health and is an important part of a containment strategy. Contact tracing attempts to limit the spread of a disease by identifying who has been exposed, who is ill and who needs to be isolated. (For more information view chart at end of the article.)
The Department of Health relies on the individual who tested positive (the case) to provide the names of individuals who they have been in close contact with in the last 14 days. The Department of Health will NOT compromise confidentiality.
WILL MY CONTACTS KNOW IF I GOT THEM SICK?
All public health professionals who conduct contact tracing are highly trained in confidentiality. When they talk to individuals who have been in contact with a case, they do not share any information about that person under any circumstance.
WHO DOES CONTACT TRACING?
The Department of Health currently has 12 individuals performing contact tracing but recently received additional funding to hire more personnel. The goal is to have 25 qualified individuals in place.
Ideally, individual names provided to the Department of Health by the case would be contacted within 24-48 hours.
The exponential growth in positive cases has created a massive workload. The Department of Health encourages cases to contact the individuals they may have exposed to the virus if they feel comfortable doing so.
As per Dr. Seidel, Nassau County Department of Health Director, “it is not about places, it is about people”: one in five cases don’t know where they may have contracted the virus.
Education is a large part of the contact tracing effort as well.
WHAT IS CLOSE CONTACT?
Close contact is defined as being within six feet of an individual for a period of 15-20 minutes, usually in an enclosed space.
This explains why most infections result from the home or workplace.
Briefly standing in line at the grocery store, for instance, is NOT considered close contact.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ISOLATION AND QUARANTINE?
Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.
Isolation is a term used for individuals who have tested positive and is intended to separate them from individuals who are not sick.
Quarantine refers to restricting the movement of individuals who may have been exposed to a contagious disease — to see if they become sick. A quarantine, in the case of COVID-19, is for 14 days.
The time between exposure to the COVID-19 virus and the onset of symptoms is called the “incubation period.” The incubation period for COVID-19 is 2 to 14 days.
“If I go out and get immediately tested and it shows that and I am fine, it doesn’t mean anything,” explained Dr. Seidel. She went on to explain that, “someone exposed to the virus may not develop the virus on Day 2, Day 5, Day 7 or Day 9 . . .” Said Seidel, “COVID-19 can be spread up two days before symptoms are experienced.” In essence, someone exposed to the virus is like a ticking time bomb. Hence the importance of wearing masks and quarantining.
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