What Safety Officers Should Know About COVID-19 Contact Tracing

What is Contact Tracing?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “contact tracing is part of the process of supporting patients and warning contacts of exposure in order to stop chains of transmission.” Contact tracing is a core disease control measure, which has been used for decades and is key in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

How Is Contact Tracing Being Used in Relation to COVID-19?

Contact tracing and testing should be instituted for close contacts of probable or confirmed COVID-19 patients. For COVID-19, the CDC defines a close contact as “any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.” Contact tracers use protocols to notify, interview, and advise close contacts.

What Do Safety Officers Need to Know About COVID-19 Contact Tracing?

In the COVID-19 world, there is a lot of misinformation and confusion about how to safely reopen organizations, campuses, and schools. The reality is there is no magic bullet for contact tracing programs. Contact tracing requires self reporting and HIPAA compliance for data privacy. For those reasons, our focus remains on providing safety officers, campus police, and school administrators with comprehensive, credible resources and suggestions for best practices to help inform decision-making in preventing the spread of infectious diseases, saving lives, and protecting people.

First and foremost, it is most important to listen to the recommendations put forth by the CDC, as well as state and local health departments, in order to determine the best course of action. Links to these experts can easily be added to the “Resources” section of the Omnilert app.

The CDC recently stated, “Identifying contacts and ensuring they do not interact with others is critical to protect communities from further spread. If communities are unable to effectively isolate patients and ensure contacts can separate themselves from others, rapid community spread of COVID-19 is likely to increase to the point that strict mitigation strategies will again be needed to contain the virus … Technology partners are key in the modification of existing systems and the development of new user-friendly data interfaces to manage multiple data streams with seamless interoperability.”

Software-based automation, such as that provided by emergency notification and management systems, can supplement manual contact tracing efforts to improve accuracy, speed, and cost. Contact tracing surveys can be sent out using the polling feature in the Omnilert app.

Additionally, you may ask your stakeholders to perform their own self-assessment. Once again, this can be added to the “Resources” section of the Omnilert app.

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