Contact tracing, a core disease control measure employed by local and state health department personnel for decades, is a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19 by interrupting spread, preventing outbreaks and ensuring appropriate treatment for someone who has contracted COVID-19.
The State of Florida Department of Health, which implements programs for the prevention, control and reporting of communicable diseases of public health significance, may also use the test result as part of a testing and contact tracing program. The COVID-19 pandemic is a communicable disease of public health significance.
Apart from the direct uses of test results described on this website, access to an individual’s test sample and results will be held in a confidential manner by UF Health in a secure database and/or by the State of Florida Department of Health.
How Contact Tracing Works
- A person with a suspected or confirmed infection is identified.
- Public health staff work with the person to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the timeframe while they may have been infectious.
- Public health staff then warn these exposed individuals (contacts) of their potential exposure as rapidly and as sensitively as possible, but do not share the identity of the person who tested positive.
To protect privacy, contacts are only informed that they may have been exposed to a person with the infection. They are not told the identity of the person who may have exposed them.
What Should a Contact Do?
Contacts are provided with education, information and support to:
- Understand their risk
- Learn how to separate themselves from others who are not exposed
- Learn how to monitor themselves for illness, and
- Understand the possibility that they could spread the infection to others, even if they themselves do not feel ill (this is called being asymptomatic).
Contacts are encouraged to stay home and maintain physical distance from others (at least 6 feet) until 14 days after they were last exposed to the sick person, in case they also become ill. They should monitor themselves by checking their temperature twice daily and watching for cough or shortness of breath. To the extent possible, public health staff will check in with contacts to make sure they are self-monitoring and have not developed symptoms.