How did I get COVID-19?
Your local health department can help sort that out.
Johnny Woodhouse Published: 7/29/2020
So you’ve tested positive for COVID-19. Now what?
- First, contact your doctor and start self-monitoring your symptoms.
- Next, start compiling a list of everyone you have had close contact with. Close or prolonged contact means being around someone else for more than 15 minutes.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will likely be contacted quickly by a public health professional to initiate contact tracing.
Contact tracing has been around for decades in health care and it’s a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It’s performed by public health professionals who study patterns and causes of diseases in humans.
Pauline Rolle, MD, medical director of the Duval County Health Department, said her agency has a team of investigators specially trained in contact tracing.
“We can perform this function for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19,” said Dr. Rolle, adding that the mission of both state and local health departments is to protect, promote and improve the health of all Florida residents through integrated state, county and community efforts.
To protect patient privacy, contacts are only informed that they may have been exposed to a patient with COVID-19. They are not told the identity of the patient who may have exposed them, Dr. Rolle said.
Contact tracing not only prevents the spread and transmission of COVID-19, it also:
- Identifies new COVID-19 infections in a timely manner.
- Offers COVID-19 testing information and links individuals who are affected to support services.
- Alerts close contacts of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Anyone who has come in close contact with a COVID-19 patient should take proper precautions, such as:
- Getting tested
- Monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms
- Washing hands regularly
- Wearing a mask when it is appropriate
You are still considered a close contact even if you were wearing a cloth face covering while you were around someone with COVID-19.
Cloth face coverings are meant to prevent individuals from transmitting the disease to others.
Through the use of contact tracing, public health experts can get ahead of infectious diseases and prevent further spread, Dr. Rolle said.