Contact Tracing in Montgomery: What You Need to KnowPosted on June 23, 2020
By Stephanie Carey, Montgomery Twp. Health Officer
The term “contact tracing” has come into wide use in the United States this year, but to those of us in public health, the phrase goes back a century. We’ve been fortunate that until now, contact tracing was more of an academic topic than everyday reality.
As New Jersey enters “Stage 2” of our recovery from COVID, we will be increasing our resources devoted to contact tracing to help keep our community safe.
What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing involves public health professionals doing investigations of infectious disease cases, both to determine their likely source, and to identify additional people who may have become infected. Contact tracing is the most effective way to stamp out new outbreaks before they become large, allowing us to reopen the economy.
The first step in contact tracing is a telephone call placed by health department staff to individuals who have been infected, to ask where they have been and who they have been in contact with. We ask for names and numbers of those additional people, so we can contact them to ask similar questions, and to provide advice about testing and quarantine, to reduce the chance for further spread.
What about contact tracing scams?
There have been instances of scams in which people have falsely posed as contact tracers to try to commit crimes. Don’t let that stop you from cooperating with legitimate contact tracing, which is intended to protect the health of you, your loved ones, and the community overall.
The best way to identify a fraudulent tracer is the questions they ask. A legitimate contact tracer will never ask you for banking information, your Social Security number, insurance information, or ask you to pay a fee. A legitimate contact tracer will also give you their own name and tell you who they are working for. If they are calling from my department you have the option to call the Montgomery Municipal building (908-359-8211) to verify that these are real Township employees.
What happens if I am at risk of infection?
If you have been exposed to a person who has tested positive, we will help you get access to testing, provide support services, and provide you with written instructions for isolation or quarantine, if needed. Self-quarantine usually lasts 2 weeks.
The whole society has essentially been “quarantined” for the last two months. Following the instructions of a contact tracer is a necessary sacrifice you can do to help your neighbors, help your community, to return to society, confident in the knowledge that infected people are being identified and quarantined until they are either recovered or tested negative.
If you receive a call from my department, please know that our foremost concern is your family’s health and welfare.