What you need to know about contact tracing and how it can stop COVID-19 cases in Colorado

Contact tracing will be part of the new normal
Doctor holding stethoscope stock photo
Posted at 6:34 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 21:16:17-04

DENVER — As Colorado moves from a stay-at-home order to a safer-at -home policy, many are calling for contact tracing to keep track and isolate those with COVID-19.

Denver Public Health is not currently contact tracing for the virus but explained to Denver7 how it works.

Health care workers will contact those who test positive for the virus via phone and conduct an interview.

“We get a list of every person they have been in contact with and we reach out to those people and call them and tell them, ‘Hey you could have potentially been exposed to COVID-19 and we recommend a quarantine,’” Tori Burket, an epidemiologist with Denver Public Health, said Tuesday.

The goal of contact tracing is to limit the spread of disease and collect data that can be used to make public policy decisions, like social distancing guidelines.

“It can be really difficult getting a phone call saying, 'You have been potentially exposed to this.' It can be really scary and people want information, they want to know exactly who they were exposed to,” Burket said.

Because of privacy laws, health care workers will not be able to tell those they are tracking who exactly exposed them to COVID-19. They will give a date of possible exposure.

During the interview a person who has been exposed may be asked to verify their name, address and birthday. Things such your financial information or your social security number will never be collected.

Health care workers will share information about symptoms to look out for as well as resources you may need.

While some testing positive may not feel comfortable sharing the contact information of loved ones, it is not voluntary.

“We can work with our partners at the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment to force that information if we think it is a public health risk, especially if someone may have been in contact with vulnerable populations like folks in long-term care facilities,” Burket said.

Public health departments across the state are reassigning and hiring more workers to come up with a robust contact tracing system.