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    Contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19, Answer the Call

    Every one can help slow the spread of communicable diseases

    A communicable disease is spread from one person to another through a variety of ways, such as contact with blood and bodily fluids; breathing in an airborne virus; or by being bitten by an insect. Public health works in cooperation with local doctors, hospitals and laboratories, to identify communicable diseases.

    Once notified of certain communicable diseases, public health will start a case investigation by calling persons to determine how they may have been exposed and who the person was in contact with. This is the basis of "contact tracing," and it is done regularly by public health for measles, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis --to name a few.

    How answering the call stops the spread

    You are diagnosed with COVID-19, You receive a health alert from Tarrant County, You complete a case investigation interview via online survey, call to TCPH Hotline at 817-248-6922 or a contact tracer calls you, Contacts are identified, Contact tracer interviewed by TCPH, enrolled into SARA Alert, and connected with testing resources, SARA Alert monitors their health while in quarantine, Spread of COVID-19 is slowed, risk minimized

    Why contact tracing matters

    Many people who have COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms and don’t realize they may be spreading the virus. We can track the spread and possibly reduce additional exposure to others, by figuring out who the person with COVID has been in contact with.

    Contact tracing only works if you talk to and share information with a contact tracer. So if you get a call or text from a contact tracer, help keep your family and friends safe by answering.

    How will you be contacted if you have COVID-19?

    If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed and your information has been reported to Tarrant County Public Health you will receive the following message by phone, email, or text from Tarrant County Public Health’s automated messaging system Everbridge. The phone message or text originates from Tarrant County's COVID-19 hotline (817-248-6299), while the email comes from covidtesting@tarrantcounty.com.

    Through contact tracing, the spread of COVID-19 is slowed

    We will attempt to reach you based on the contact information supplied to us by your medical provider or the information you submitted at the drive-through testing site.

    If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed and your information has been reported to Tarrant County Public Health you will receive the following message:

    “This is an important message, please listen carefully.  Tarrant County Public Health is trying to reach you to get information about your health. Tell us how to connect with you.
    •    Select 1 for completing an online survey, go to www.tarrantcounty.com/casesurvey
    •    Select 2 for receiving a call from a contact tracer
    •    Select 3 for Placing a call to the hotline at 817-248-6299 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
    •    Select 4 for None of the above

    A slightly modified version is sent out via text.  The phone and text message continue to be sent to you every hour until either you select one of the choices or the system has tried four times to reach you and you have not responded to any of the attempts.

    Simply pressing 1 through 4 on your keypad, or texting 1 through 4 back to us will get the messages to stop before all four contact cycles have been completed.  It also lets us know your preferred method of communication.  If you select an online survey or a call to the hotline and then we don’t hear from you, your case will be referred to a contact tracer for follow up.

    What happens during a contact tracer call, and what information do I need to provide to the contact tracer?

    The information contact tracers receive is meant to help the individuals involved, as well as to protect those they live with and the community, in general. Once information is received, by law, only health officials with proper credentials can access it.

    For people diagnosed with COVID-19

    Be ready to provide the following information:

    • Your symptoms
    • Any underlying health conditions
    • If possible, where you received healthcare and the types of tests you had
    • The people you were within six feet of, during the two days before you had symptoms, up until the first day you began isolating
    • If you don’t/didn’t have symptoms, list your activities during the two days before your diagnosis. This includes the places you went when you had symptoms, prior to isolation or two days before diagnosis
    • The phone numbers of anyone you tell us about, so they can be called and cared for.  We will encourage you to let your contacts know about your illness, but we will not be sharing your information with them
    • We will ask contacts about how they are feeling and encourage them to get tested.

    How will you be notified if you were exposed to COVID-19?

    Individual Notification
    Tarrant County Public Health encourages people positive for COVID-19 to notify their contacts and workplaces of possible exposure.  When public health received information on potential contacts, a contract tracer calls the individual/workplace about the potential exposure.  
    A contact tracer will ask:

    • If you are currently having symptoms
    • If you have a place to quarantine and have a thermometer to monitor your temperature with
    • If you’ve been tested, if not, they will encourage you to get tested and can assist you in getting tested.

    At the end of the call, we may even ask if you would like to enroll in a messaging program, which sends daily health and safety reminders until the 14-day quarantine ends. (See “How will you be monitored if you have been exposed to COVID-19?”). We cannot tell you the name of the individual who exposed you.

    Large Group Notification
    When exposure has occurred in a large setting, such as: a school or large workplace, Tarrant County Public Health will use its automated messaging system to send out mass emails, texts and phone messages using a list provided to us by the school or workplace, etc.  The messages will originate from Tarrant County's COVID-19 hotline (817-248-6299) while the email comes from covidtesting@tarrantcounty.com.  

    Here is an example of a message that would be sent out during a school investigation:

    “This is an important message, please listen carefully.  Tarrant County Public Health is investigating one or more cases of COVID-19 at {insert school}. Your child has been identified as being a potential close contact.  Tarrant County Public Health requires your child to be excluded from school and isolate for the next 14 days.  Your child will be allowed to return to school on {inset date}.  Contact your school for options for virtual instruction during this time.

    We also strongly recommend that your child get tested for COVID-19.  For more detailed directions including a listing of locations where free testing is available please visit www.tarrantcounty.com/covidexposure or call 817-248-6299.  We appreciate your cooperation in stopping the spread of COVID 19.  Please select from the following:

    • Press 1 for my child is having symptoms and would like to speak to contact tracer
    • Press 2 for my child is currently not having symptoms of COVID-19
    • Press 3 for I received this message in error and do not have a child at xx school
    • Press 4 for solicitud para recibir este mensaje en español
    • Press 5 for Yêu cầu tin nhắn này thông dịch bằng tiếng Việt"

    How will you be monitored if you have been exposed to COVID-19?

    Sara Alert company logo

     

    Tarrant County Public Health will use Sara Alert™ to communicate with people at risk for developing COVID-19 due to an exposure. Primarily those people whose names were provided as persons being exposed to COVID-19 under quarantine and/or in isolation.  This automated system will allow you to electronically report through web, text, email or phone calls, your daily health condition so that we can monitor your progress

    We are all in this together, and by sharing information and listening to the direction of public health staff, we can spread the word, stop the virus, keep people healthy and keep Tarrant County schools and businesses open.

    Sara Alert™ is a standards-based, open-source tool that allows public health officials to monitor individuals at risk for COVID-19, enabling real-time insights and increased reporting capability for early containment of the virus. The tool allows individuals to report daily symptoms through web, text, email, or phone calls. The tool was developed by MITRE in partnership with state, local, and federal partners.

    About Sara Alert (Fact sheet)

    Tips to Protect Yourself from Scams:    English        Spanish

     

    About confidentiality

    We’ll call your contacts and let them know they have been exposed so they can get tested, but not tell them your name. Your information will remain confidential. Contact tracers will never:

    • Ask for your Social Security number or bank account number
    • Ask about money or payment.

    Contact tracers may:

    • Ask your health insurance status and obtain information on insurance, but only in the context of assisting in obtaining additional medical care or testing.

    If you are uncomfortable in answering a question, you can decline to answer a question, but still can participate in completing the case or contact interview.

    How can I stay informed?

    HAN, Health Alert Network logo

    The Tarrant County Health Alert Network allows public health to quickly share information about urgent public health incidents affecting the county. You can join this network by visiting this website and choosing which topics that interest you and how you want to be alerted. When those topics are updated, you will receive an alert notice by the method you have selected.  

    Current topics you can select include:

    • Communicable Disease/Immunization
    • Data and Reports
    • Environmental Health
    • Public Health Preparedness

    Cooperation with public health contact tracers is vital to stopping COVID-19.
    For more information about contact tracing, call 817-248-6299.

     

    TARRANT COUNTY, TEXAS



    County Telephone Operator 817-884-1111

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    100 E. Weatherford, Fort Worth, Texas 76196