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Contact tracing is an important step in slowing the spread of COVID-19. It’s when health workers notify you that you’ve been in close contact with an infected person. They will tell you how to quarantine or isolate and get tested. Public health departments have used contact tracing for decades to fight infectious disease. Marin Public Health has a team of "contact investigators" who play a crucial role in the COVID-19 response.
How Contact Tracing Relates to COVID-19 Testing
When a person tests positive for COVID-19, the team calls the person to gather a list of close contacts who are at high risk of exposure. Everyone on that list is then contacted to arrange for testing and quarantine in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. While these close contacts are awaiting test results, they are commonly referred to as a Person Under Investigation (PUI).
In addition to gathering a list of close contacts, the contact investigation team evaluates symptoms and provides education regarding quarantine and/or isolation for COVID-19 infected persons, PUIs and any members of their households.
During a contact investigation, contact tracers will talk to those who have tested positive. They’ll alert anyone they may have exposed, keeping names confidential. They’ll:
- check symptoms
- offer testing
- discuss next steps like quarantine, self-isolation, and medical care.
By finding spread patterns quickly, we slow infection and help avoid outbreaks. This helps Marin keep healthcare needs below capacity and safely reopen businesses. Early awareness helps you protect your friends and loved ones from exposure. And early medical care can improve your outcome. The sooner we can reach you, the sooner you can get advice, testing, and support.
Is the information I provide to a contact tracer confidential?
Yes. Your identity and health information is always kept private. It will not be shared with anyone who may have been exposed. No one will ask about your immigration status during testing, care or follow-up calls. You will never be asked for your Social Security number or payment information.
California’s strict privacy laws protect all your information. California Connected maintains data with strict privacy and security standards. The data is only collected and stored for use by local and state public health departments.
Warning About Scams
We are aware that members of the general public are receiving calls appearing to originate from CDC through caller ID, they are receiving scammer voice mail messages saying the caller is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or claiming to be from a contact investigation team. Some calls are requesting donations or asking for credit card information to order COVID-19 tests. Contact tracers DO NOT request donations or credit card information. Do not give out your personal information, including banking information, Social Security number or other personally identifiable information over the phone or to individuals you do not know.
Meet one of our contact investigators
Jill Aggersbury of Novato is a retired nurse and volunteers with Marin County Public Health as part of the Marin Medical Reserve Corps (MMRC). She works alongside about 70 others who share responsibility for personally reaching out to every confirmed COVID-19 case in Marin. Together they represent the diversity of Marin’s neighborhoods.
Learn more about the "behind-the-scenes" of the contact tracing/investigation process by reading Jill's story.