As Ohio continues to see high rates of COVID-19 exposure across the state and hospitals continue to report a high rate of hospitalizations and ICU cases, case investigation and contact tracing are more important than ever to help control the spread of COVID-19. Collecting accurate data is of critical importance.
Getting comprehensive information from a patient diagnosed with COVID-19 as quickly as possible is the foundation of case investigation and contact tracing. During case investigation, patient interviews are the first step in determining potential transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. Contact tracing can help prevent further spread by quickly identifying and informing people who may be infected and contagious so they can take steps to quarantine and prevent the infection of others.
- During test administration, testing sites should ensure patients have provided complete contact information that can be shared with local health departments for case investigation.
- Patients should provide their primary phone numbers, including area code, on testing forms. If that patient tests positive, the local health department will use that information to contact the patient to determine exposure, symptom severity, and close contacts and explain appropriate isolation or quarantine measures.
- A public health worker who is performing contact tracing will reach out to the patient to create a list of people who were in close contact and potentially exposed to the virus. The local health department will notify anyone who may have been exposed and provide instructions. Contact tracers will not disclose a patient’s identity as part of the process.
The Ohio Department of Health offers contact tracing explainer and guidance, as well as frequently asked questions about diagnosis, treatment, and quarantine at coronavirus.ohio.gov. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidance for local health departments on case investigation and contact tracing.