DENVER (CBS4)– If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive for the disease, it’s easy to feel like a pariah, but in order to stop the spread it’s important to share your experience and communicate with health experts. Contact tracing is the effort to track down the people who have been around anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
Katie Lazar is a case investigator with Jefferson County Public Health. Her job is to call people who have tested positive for COVID-19 as well as those who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive.
“We just follow up to see how they are doing, ask a little bit about the symptoms they are experiencing and then ask if they’ve had any contact with anyone else,” said Lazar.
While she says most people are more than willing to help her gather data, there are some who feel uneasy about it.
“I definitely understand that it can be uncomfortable to have a stranger call you and ask about your health,” said Lazar.
She and her colleagues from across the state also collect contact information so they can continue to track the spread, which also makes people feel uneasy.
Some may decide they want to protect their privacy, but like Lazar, experts from Tri-County Health and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment say there is nothing to be worried about.
“It’s not a lot of extremely confidential, extremely personal information,” said Ashley Richter the Communicable Disease Epidemiology Manager for Tri-County Health Department.
Nicole Comstock Deputy Director of the Communicable Disease Branch at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said, “A contact we provide to public health is held in strict confidence. it is really just used for public health purposes.”
All three health department representatives say the information they collect is treated as medical information and stored securely. Plus, they limit who has access to the info. They aren’t sharing it and they aren’t building a government database of sick people. They solely want to keep track of how the disease is spreading.
“That’s really the best way to stop this pandemic,” said Richter.
“By doing this we can help control the spread of COVID, get a good sense of where any hot spots might be in our state, and eventually make sure get this under control so we can go back to our normal daily lives quicker,” said Comstock.
If a contact tracer from the state or a county does need to get ahold of you, it will likely be by phone and really they just want your contact info and to provide you with resources in case you get sick.