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What Kentuckians Need to Know About Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is a decades-old public health technique used to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.(Adobe Stock)
Contact tracing is a decades-old public health technique used to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.(Adobe Stock)
June 22, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- As the state continues next week with phase two of reopening, more residents may receive calls from contact tracers -- public health workers whose job is to find and alert individuals who were possibly exposed to the coronavirus.

Mark Carter, executive adviser of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, is spearheading the state's contact tracing efforts. He says when a person has tested positive for COVID-19, that information is reported to a local health department, where a disease investigator will call the individual and ask him or her to detail where he or she had been recently.

Carter says contact tracers will then work to identify any people the infected individual might have come into contact with.

"If we all pitch in to do it together, I think that, I agree with the governor, that we can have it both ways, we can have a healthy population and we can keep the economy open," he states. "So I hope folks will participate fully in the process."

Carter adds contact tracers will help Kentuckians understand their risk, what they should do to separate themselves from loved ones, and how to monitor themselves for illness.

People who might have been exposed are encouraged to stay home for 14 days and stay socially distant, six feet apart, from others.

Carter says the state aims to hire up to 700 additional contact tracers.

"In the last three weeks or so, we've onboarded about 180 disease investigators and contract tracers, and some support personnel," he states. "They're being deployed around the state."

Carter adds that if you receive a call from a contact tracer, that person will immediately identify himself or herself as being with the health department in your county. He says tracers will only ask basic questions, such as your name, and might ask for your email address.

"Tracers and disease investigators will not ask for things like your Social Security number, bank account information, credit card information, they won't ask you to pay a fee."

Carter says if you suspect you've received a fraudulent call from someone pretending to be a contact tracer, hang up, and call the Kentucky Attorney General's Consumer Protection hotline number at 888-432-9257.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY