COVID-19 Contact Tracing: When Public Health Calls and When It’s a Scam
Posted on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020 at 8:20 am
Public health contact tracing helps trace the spread of COVID-19. Our contact tracers ask folks who have tested positive about places they’ve been, and we ask them to list people who may have had close contact with them. For example, if you told us you went to a party at a friend’s house, we would contact your friend and get a list of every person who attended the party. We would follow-up with each of those people.
Protect yourself from scams
Unfortunately, there are people who could try to scam you by impersonating public health staff or a contact tracer.
Contact tracers will never:
- Contact you about a test result if you’ve never been tested
- Ask for your credit card information, bank account information, or social security number
- Text you a link
- Share their personal information with you
Contact tracers will ask for your:
- Phone number
You can always verify the identity of Public Health staff by calling us at (608) 266-4821 and asking to be connected to the contact tracer directly.
Watch out for hoaxes
There have been rumors swirling around nationwide that people have been notified of a positive test result even if they haven’t been tested. Based on how paperwork and lab samples are collected and processed, this is not possible at Dane County community test sites.
At the Alliant Energy Center and other community test sites, paperwork with your name and date of birth is filled out just before you are tested and is sent to the lab with your test sample. This paperwork is separate from any pre-registration information that is provided before being tested.
These hoaxes exist to undermine the hard work everyone in public health is doing to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some tips from experts on how to interpret the daily flood of COVID-19 information.
Pick up the phone, help slow the spread of COVID-19
A contact tracer will call you if your test was positive. Contact tracers don’t judge. They talk with you to determine who you’ve had contact with who may then need to get tested or quarantine. Please answer the phone—or quickly return their message—to help stop the spread of the virus. We need to discuss important details with you, like how close you were to the person who tested positive, for how long, and in what circumstances. We then give you guidance on symptoms to watch for, quarantining or isolating yourself from others, and getting tested. We ask you if you will have any trouble meeting needs if you need to isolate. If you have concerns, we address them and provide assistance where we can.
Answering the phone and speaking with contact tracers, along with folks wearing masks, distancing themselves from others, and following prevention measures, is how we can get on top of the virus, slow it down, and eventually stop it altogether.