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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 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.
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.
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.
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.