What is contact tracing?

CDC calls it 'a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19'

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Contact tracing in the time of the novel coronavirus outbreak is the act of tracking every person who someone has come into contact with while infected with COVID-19 in order to notify that person and monitor his or her health.

The process is being practiced in states throughout the country as the nation grapples with the effects of the global pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called contact tracing "a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19.”

Registered nurse Shelley Oregan test patients for the coronavirus at the Mercy Health Saint Mary's drive-thru testing center in Grand Rapids, Mich., on April 28, 2020. (Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

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The process calls for public health staff to “work with a patient to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the timeframe while they may have been infectious,” the CDC states.

At the end of April, Apple and Google announced a joined effort to create software that would help public health workers notify people who might have come into contact with someone infected by the virus.

APPLE, GOOGLE UPDATE CORONAVIRUS CONTACT-TRACING SOFTWARE PLANS

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
AAPLAPPLE INC.115.04-0.71-0.61%
GOOGLALPHABET INC.1,632.98+26.32+1.64%

Health officials must warn anyone who might have been exposed as soon as possible and provide them with resources and information pertaining to next steps.

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A health worker conducts COVID-19 tests at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site, Tuesday, April 21, 2020, in Sanford, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The process also requires knowledge of patient confidentiality laws, cultural sensitivity and “resourcefulness in locating patients and contacts who may be difficult to reach or reluctant to engage in conversation,” the CDC’s website states.

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The CDC defines someone as being within “close contact” if he or she has been within six feet of a person who is infected with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes. The virus is infectious approximately 48 hours before symptoms show.