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How COVID-19 'contact tracing' works and the fraudulent calls to look out for

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Posted at 7:19 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-29 21:05:47-04

(LEX 18) — Local health departments across Kentucky are using 'contact tracing' to contain COVID-19.

"It's one of the tools that we have in public health to not only continue to reopen the Commonwealth but to stay open," Mark Carter, with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said.

Carter explained how contact tracing would work in the Commonwealth in a Zoom meeting Monday afternoon.

He said the process begins with a disease investigator who will reach out to people who have tested positive.

The investigator will confirm the lab results, verify their isolation needs, and ask about potential contacts.

A contact tracer will then call those potential contacts to inform them that they have been exposed to the virus.

The tracer will make recommendations depending on the level of exposure. For example, a person may be asked to self-quarantine if they went on a road trip with someone who tested positive.

If someone had a conversation in a park with someone who tested positive for the virus, a tracer might recommend keeping a close eye on potential symptoms.

The tracer should assess the health of the person who has been exposed daily.

A social support connecter may also be available to help those in quarantine and need help with daily necessities like food and medicine. They connect those individuals with support systems to assist with those needs, and in some cases, Carter said, they may help furnish those needs directly.

Carter said people across the Commonwealth need to be aware of fraudulent calls. Tracers will ask for necessary information, such as date of birth and address. However, they will not ask for a social security number, bank account number, or other financial information.

"Anything like that that a person hears on the call, they need to hang up and call the Attorney General's fraud hotline," Carter said.

You can also fill out a form here.

He said all calls from tracers would originate from local health departments, so calls will not come from one uniform number. However, he said the State is working to us 844-KY-TRACE as a future callback for people who may have missed a call from a tracer.

Carter said the federal government had given more than $76 million for the contact tracing initiative.

Some of that money has gone toward hiring new tracers. Before the pandemic, Carter said the State had 430 employed. The State has hired an additional 210 and could hire up to 700 total.