One of the most common questions about the COVID-19 pandemic is from people who want to know what happens when someone tests positive for the virus, and whether it's possible they could have unknowingly been exposed as well.
Fortunately, Waukesha County Public Health has a proactive team of Public Health nurses trained in the process to track down and notify people about these cases. This process is called contact tracing, and here's how it works:
- When a healthcare provider reports a confirmed case of COVID-19 to Public Health, the test results are evaluated for appropriate follow-up. Waukesha County does not follow up with people who test positive for COVID-19 antibodies. Some patients will receive a text message from Public Health that will confirm their test result and ask some crucial questions for tracking the illness. If contacted through this system, appropriate guidance and resources will be offered.
- Other times, a Public Health nurse will directly call the individual to inform them of their results and conduct an interview. Appropriate isolation guidance and disease education will be provided.
- The nurse next conducts an interview with the individual. This helps identify the potential source of infection, collects information on the severity of the illness, and identifies people who have had close contact. See CDC close contact definition.
- People who test positive for COVID-19 are provided with guidance to give their close contacts on quarantine. Close contacts need to quarantine according to CDC recommendations and monitor themselves for symptoms.
If any exposure occurred at a business, the owner or HR is encouraged to contact Public Health for guidance as needed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The business is asked to help identify any close contacts, notify them of potential exposure and quarantine them as necessary.
The contact tracing process applies to all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Waukesha County, including any cases that may have had close contact with our facilities and staff.
How contact tracing can help reopen the country.