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What is contact tracing, and what does it mean for me?

LAPLACE — Contact tracing is a tool being used by the Louisiana Department of Health to inform individuals of their potential exposure to COVID-19.

This in turn allows those who may have been infected to self-isolate, get tested, and avoid spreading the virus to others in the community.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, a contact tracer is a public health worker who attempts to identify all people who were exposed to someone with COVID-19. This is how it works:

People who test positive will be called by a contact tracer.

The phone number that will appear when the contact tracer calls is 877-766-2130. You can save this to your phone’s recognized contacts.

The contact tracer will ask questions about the person’s health status, where they have traveled, and who else they have been in contact with during the time the person was contagious. The contact tracer then notifies any close contacts that they have been exposed to the virus.

Contact tracers will advise the close contacts to stay home, monitor their symptoms, and may advise them to get tested. To protect privacy, those who are called by a contact tracer are only informed that they may have been exposed to the virus on a certain date; they are not told the identity of the person who may have exposed them.

Contact tracers will also try to link people who tested positive and their close contacts to important health and social services that might be needed while they are required to stay at home.

The 211 informational phone line remains open for community questions relating to COVID-19. According to United Way, Louisiana 211 had received 72,552 calls seeking COVID-19 information as of May 15.