What is contact tracing?

According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services, contact tracing is a way to notify people who have been near someone or may have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Close contact is defined as being around someone within 6 feet of one another for 10 minutes or longer.

How does it work?

All Case Investigation (for COVID positive cases) is conducted via telephone. The contact tracer conducts an interview asking the individual a series of questions to help the health alliance suggest next steps based on their exposure. Contact tracing may then be completed via phone interviews, email, or SMS text messaging and would be determined by the contact tracer. Contract tracing is conducted on a case-by-case basis and the questions may vary depending on the initial Case Investigation phone interview.

Who handles it?

The Department of Health and Human Services along with local agency contact tracers are conducting our contact tracing. These local agencies include county health alliances such as the Cabarrus Health Alliance for Cabarrus County residents. For example, if a Cabarrus County resident tests positive, they will be contacted by a Cabarrus Health Alliance Case Investigator. A group called Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) will be partnering with some of the local health alliances to conduct the tracing within the larger community.

What’s the process?

The Department of Health and Human Services has a sample scenario on their website available in English and Spanish that illustrates the steps of contact tracing when someone has a positive test for COVID-19.

If I tested positive, what questions will they ask me?

The questions you may be asked include but are not limited to: when your symptoms began, who you have been in close contact with and those individuals' names and contact information.

What questions will they ask me?

When an individual who tests positive is interviewed, he/she will list all individuals they were in close contact with. If you were on that list, an individual from one of the county agencies will reach out to you via telephone to conduct an interview. Some of the questions they may ask you include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Do you have a fever? (You will need to check your temperature prior to taking any fever-reducing medications such as Tylenol.)
  • Have you experienced a new or sudden loss of taste and/or smell?
  • Have you experienced any of the following symptoms?
    • Cough
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Shortness of breath
    • Sore throat
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Do you have any underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, etc.?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • Are you taking any medications that reduce your immune response?
  • Are you a healthcare worker/first responder or do you reside in a home with a healthcare worker or other first responder?

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

If you believe you may have COVID-19 or think you might have been exposed to the virus, complete a free COVID-19 Risk Assessment through Atrium Health to review your symptoms, find the best care and learn if testing is appropriate.

If I test negative, but am symptomatic, what do I do?

For teammates, if you are symptomatic you are not cleared to work until Teammate Health and your supervisor clear you to return. While fever or symptoms are present, the Teammate Health Negative Results Follow-Up Team will check with you approximately every 48 hours. Once a teammate is fever/symptom free without fever-reducing medication for 48 hours, they are typically cleared to return to work.

For all other individuals (students included), if you are still symptomatic but tested negative, you should follow up with your primary care provider as you may require retesting or additional testing for other conditions with similar symptoms.

I’ve been notified that I was exposed to COVID-19 at school/during clinicals and need to quarantine for 14 days. Will my absences be excused? How can I make up clinical hours?

Your absences are excused as it relates to COVID-19. Your instructor will require documentation of exposure/testing. Makeup time will be available at the discretion of the clinical site and your clinical instructor. For specific questions related to specific courses, labs, and/or clinicals, please reach out to your course instructor.

For additional general information, please refer to the “I’ve been tested for COVID-19, now what?” PDF from Cabarrus Health Alliance.