Macon County Health Department Contact Tracing

by Missouri Sheriffs’ Association and Training Academy

Macon County has tested around 175 people for COVID-19. Some disparities between data we collect as the health department and the data collected by DHSS reporting of COVID-19 cases do exist. We work diligently to review each case notification and strive to ensure Macon County receives accurate and timely information.

When there is a confirmed positive case, a contact tracing or case investigation must be performed by the health department. The contact tracing process begins with identifying, assessing, and managing contacts who have been exposed to COVID-19 with the goal of containing the spread of disease by use of isolation and quarantine. During this process, the contact tracer notifies and interviews the person who tested positive or the person under investigation (PUI), locates and notifies all the contacts of the PUI, and, continuously monitors all the contacts involved until the case is closed.

Working with the PUI, the contact tracer must investigate those who have been in direct contact with them in the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms. Direct contact is considered as being closer than 6 feet for at least 30 minutes during the PUI’s infectious period or having direct contact with respiratory droplets from the infected person, such as being coughed on. The health department (contact tracer) will let the direct contacts know they have been exposed to COVID-19 and what symptoms to watch for.

The contact will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days and watch for symptoms. If symptoms develop, they will be asked to call their primary health care provider. The health department will offer referrals to any service the person may need.

The health department contact tracers work diligently to protect everyone’s privacy. Contact tracing is confidential. There will be no personal information given to anyone during contact tracing. We cannot disclose the identity or any identifying features of the positive person due to federal HIPAA privacy laws. The health department will not disclose when or where a positive person has been unless it is absolutely necessary to determine potential unknown contacts should the person have attended a gathering or been in close contact at some type of community event. That is why social distancing is important. Good social distancing in public minimizes the number of case investigations made by a contact tracer.