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Contact tracing will help slow the spread of COVID-19

Oregon COVID-19 Contact Collaborative

The Oregon COVID-19 Contact Collaborative is a statewide effort among Oregon Health Authority, local and tribal public health authorities, and community-based organizations to stop the spread of COVID-19 through coordinated contact tracing. Working together, we provide guidance and support to more people who have been exposed to COVID-19.

What is contact tracing and why does it matter?

Contact tracing means calling people who may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 to provide guidance and support. It’s a key tool for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In Oregon, local public health authorities use contact tracing to prevent the spread of many types of diseases, like measles.
Contact tracers help keep you healthy and slow the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • Talking with you about how to prevent the spread of the virus, including staying home or at the location provided by public health until the danger has passed. This is known as “quarantining.”
  • Providing health information on how to care for yourself and others if you start having symptoms.
  • Sharing resources available in your community that can support you while you quarantine.

What is OHA’s strategy for reaching communities most affected by current and long-standing racism and oppression?

OHA understands how important it is to meet the diverse needs of all people in Oregon. The Oregon COVID-19 Contact Collaborative staff will be reflective of our diverse state in order to be culturally responsive to the needs of all Oregonians.

Community-based organizations (CBOs), including advocacy groups, and Community Health Workers (CHWs) are central to the success of our contact tracing efforts. They will help us reach and respond to the needs of people of color, tribal members, people with disabilities, immigrant and refugee communities, LGBTQIA+ communities, and migrant and seasonal farm workers.

Your privacy will be protected

We want everyone to feel safe answering the call from a COVID-19 Contact Collaborative team member. Your information is strictly confidential and will be treated as a confidential public health record. Your information will not be shared with other agencies, including immigration officials.

Local public health authorities and COVID-19 contact team members will never ask for your:

  • Social security number
  • Immigration status (Note: Information will not be shared with immigration authority or law enforcement. Getting tested or getting treatment for COVID-19 will not affect your ability to get permanent residency in the U.S.)
  • Credit card number, bank account or billing information

If anyone calls you requesting this information, hang up. This could be someone trying to use your information for a scam.

Local and tribal public health authorities and the Oregon COVID-19 Contact Collaborative will ask:

  • What county you live in
  • Your date of birth
  • Your contact information, including phone number, email address, and mailing address
  • Your occupation
  • Whether you have symptoms of COVID-19

What to expect when you answer the call:

  • Who will receive a call?
    People with a confirmed positive COVID-19 test will receive a call from their local or tribal health authorities working in partnership with the Oregon COVID-19 Contact Collaborative.
  • People who may have been exposed to COVID-19 by someone with a confirmed positive COVID-19 test will receive a call from a member of the Oregon COVID-19 Contact Collaborative.

What to expect during a call?

If you have a confirmed positive COVID-19 test:

  • If you have a confirmed positive COVID-19 test, a local or tribal public health official will reach out via phone and mail with information about how to prevent the spread of the virus, how to care for yourself, and how to connect with resources in your community.
  • You will be encouraged to remain isolated for at least 10 days after symptoms began and at least 72 hours after fever is gone and COVID-19 symptoms are improving.
    • Isolation means staying away from all people, including household members and family. With the exception of seeking medical treatment, do not leave until cleared to leave by your health care provider.
  • If you did not have symptoms, you will be asked to isolate until 10 days after you tested positive.
  • The public health team member will help you remember the places you visited and the people you may have been in contact with since two days before you first became sick.
    • Contact means being less than six feet from someone for at least 15 minutes.
  • The case investigator will ask about people you had contact with. A public health team member will contact that person, but they will not tell that person any information about you or your case.
  • The public health team member will give them information on how to monitor themselves for symptoms and instructions on how to get tested if they get sick, and how to avoid spreading the virus.
  • Your information is strictly confidential and will be treated as protected health information.

If you have been identified as a contact of a person confirmed to have COVID-19:

  • If you have been identified as a contact of a person with COVID-19, the Oregon COVID-19 Contact Collaborative will reach out via phone to let you know that you may have been exposed to COVID-19. They will share information about symptoms to watch for, how to get tested if you get sick, how to prevent the spread of the virus, how to care for yourself, and how to connect with resources in your community.
  • Even if you do not have symptoms, you will be encouraged to self-quarantine.
    • Quarantine means that, for 14 days after your last contact with someone with COVID-19, you should stay home or at the location provided by local public health. After 14 days, the danger of your becoming ill from this contact will have passed.
  • During this time, our team will be contacting you daily to see if you develop symptoms.
  • If you do not experience any symptoms after 14 days, you may end your quarantine and resume your normal activities.
  • If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, we will encourage you to get tested and connect you with resources for doing so.

COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
  • Fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.

Is the Oregon COVID-19 Contact Collaborative working with other groups doing research on COVID-19 like OHSU and OSU?

OHSU’s The Key to Oregon Study and OSU’s TRACE initiative are research studies to track the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. They are not related to our local public health contact tracing efforts. However, if during their research activities, a person with a positive COVID-19 test is found, local public health authorities will follow up to provide support and to see if they may have exposed others to the virus.

About the Oregon COVID-19 Contact Collaborative

The Oregon COVID-19 Contact Collaborative is a joint effort among the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), local and tribal health authorities, and community-based organizations, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through coordinated, state-wide contact tracing.

This Collaborative will increase the number of contact tracers in the state, connect those affected with resources and help protect those who have been exposed to the virus. Together we can keep Oregonians healthy and to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our state.