Information on Contact Tracing: What is it? Why Does it Matter?
What is contact tracing and why does it matter?
In Oregon, local public health authorities use contact tracing to prevent the spread of many types of diseases, like measles. The main goal of performing contact tracing is to stop others from getting the disease by informing people they have been in close contact with someone that has tested positive for COVID-19. Contact tracing also provides information, education, and support to close contacts. When fewer people in the community are exposed, there are fewer people who are infected with the disease. Reducing the total number of sick people in the community helps support working healthcare systems and allows people who haven't been exposed to go about their lives.
What to expect when you answer the call?
If you are concerned about answering a call from a number you don’t know:
- If the contact tracer is unable to reach you, they will leave a voicemail clearly identifying themselves and will request that you call back. The voicemail will not contain any health information.
If you suspect fraud, hang up the phone. Do not answer any other calls that come from that number:
- Report the activity and learn tips to avoid fraud by visiting the Federal Trade Commission online at www.consumer.ftc.gov. You can also learn about emerging scams and report the incident to the Oregon Department of Justice online at www.OregonConsumer.gov.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19:
- A health official from Jackson County Public Health will call and encourage you to self-isolate. You will be asked to isolate for 10 days even if you don’t have symptoms or feel sick.
- Self-isolation means:
- Staying home except to get medical care. Telemedicine visits are encouraged!
- Separate yourself from people and animals in your house.
- Do not share utensils, towels, pillows, bedding, kitchens or bathrooms with others.
- Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day.
- Wear a mask.
- Monitor your symptoms.
- Self-isolate for:
- At least 10 days after your symptoms began
- At least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medication)
- At least 24 hours of COVID-19 symptom improvement.
- Jackson County Public Health will:
- Help you remember the places you visited and the people you have been around before you began self-isolating. These people are called your contacts.
- Local public or tribal health will reach out to your contacts and ask them to quarantine. However, your privacy will be protected, and your contacts will not be told about your identity.
- Help you understand how to prevent the spread of the virus, how to care for yourself, and how to connect with local resources if needed.
- Your information is strictly confidential and will be treated as protected health information.
If you have been identified as a close contact and receive a phone call from Jackson County Public Health, here is what to expect:
- Contact tracers working with Jackson County Public Health will call to let you know that you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.
- They will ask you to quarantine.
- Quarantine means that you stay home or at the location provided by local public or tribal health. When in quarantine, stay at least 6 feet away from everyone you live with.
- Even if you do not have symptoms or feel sick, stay home and quarantine for 14 days.
- Quarantine lasts for 14 days after you were exposed to COVID-19. After 14 days, the danger of becoming sick will have passed.
- During your quarantine, contact tracers will:
- Call, email or text you daily to see how you are feeling.
- Encourage you to get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms and feel sick.
- Connect you with resources in your local community if needed.
- If you do not experience any symptoms during the 14 days of quarantine, you may resume your normal activities.
How will your privacy be protected?
- Your information is strictly confidential.
- Your information will not be shared with immigration officials.
Jackson County Public Health will never ask for your:
- Social security number
- Immigration status (Note: Information will not be shared with immigration authorities or law enforcement for immigration purposes. Getting tested or treated for COVID-19 will not affect your ability to get permanent residency in the U.S.)
- Credit card number, bank account, or billing information
Jackson County Public Health will ask:
- Your county of residence
- Your date of birth
- Your race, ethnicity, language, and disability status
- Your contact information, including phone number, email address, and mailing address
- Your occupation
- Whether you have symptoms of COVID-19
There is clear evidence that COVID-19 disproportionately affects Black/African American, Hispanic/LatinX, Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaskan Native communities in Oregon and across the United States. The Race, Ethnicity, Language and Disability (REAL D) policy applies to all Oregon Health Authority and Department of Human Services programs that collect, record, and report demographic data. This policy applies to local public health communicable disease programs. These data collection standards provide a consistent method to gather information and will help us notice and address health disparities.
People can find out more about contact tracing by visiting the Oregon Health Authority’s website.