Contact Tracing Frequently Asked Questions Contact tracing is an easy confidential process that helps to slow the spread of COVID-19 by reaching out to people who may have been exposed to the virus. If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by the North Carolina contact tracing staff through a text, email or phone call. The contact tracing staff’s job is to learn about where you might have been exposed to the virus and whether anyone else around you might have also been exposed. A team member will notify your close contacts of their exposure and provide them with support to stay healthy. This is the contact tracing process. Your name and personal information are not shared with any of your contacts. All the information that you provide is confidential and is not shared outside of the contact tracing staff. What You Should Expect If you test positive for COVID-19 or come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you will receive an email, text or phone call from the contact tracing staff that will provide the information and support you need to isolate or quarantine and keep yourself, your family and your close contacts healthy and safe. Review this fact sheet, available in English and Spanish, for more information about what to do if you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Any information you share during a phone call with the contact tracing staff or through the contact tracing portal is a private health record and is strictly confidential. A contact tracer will: NEVER ask for your Social Security number NEVER ask for any private financial information NEVER ask for credit card information NEVER send you a link without proper authentication procedures You can help slow the spread of COVID-19. If you receive an email from NC-Outreachfirstname.lastname@example.org, a text from 45394, or see your local health department or NC Outreach (1-844-628-7223) appear on your phone, please answer to help protect your community and the people you care about. Hope4NC Helpline (1-855-587-3463) Hope4NC connects individuals to mental health and resilience supports that help with coping skills and building resilience during times of crisis. Hope4NC is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with access to 711/TTY and interpreters. Immediate Assistance If you have questions about contact tracing and would like to talk to someone immediately, please call your local health department or NC Outreach at 1-844-628-7223. Frequently Asked Questions What is contact tracing? What is contact tracing? Contact tracing is a way to reach out to people who have been near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. See an example of how contact tracing works with this infographic in English and Spanish. Why is contact tracing important? Contact tracing helps slow the spread of COVID-19. By letting people know when they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, those exposed can stay home to protect their community. Additionally, it provides an avenue to connect people with free support and the tools required to isolate or quarantine, monitor symptoms, get tested, and help protect ourselves and our loved ones. Contact tracing in North Carolina What is the COVID-19 Community Team? The COVID-19 Community Team is the team of contact tracers working to slow the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services assembled this team (the COVID-19 Community Team) through a partnership with local health departments to expand their network and increase the number of contact tracers to be able to better handle the additional demand for contact tracing caused by COVID-19. How does contact tracing work in North Carolina? Contact tracing is a public health process conducted by trained contact tracers in coordination with the North Carolina public health departments through phone calls, texts, and emails. COVID-19 Community Team members reach out to people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and discuss who they may have been in close contact with while they were contagious, in addition to guiding isolation and connection to any needed supports. Contact tracers then call these close contacts to notify them of their potential exposure and provide guidance on quarantine, testing dates, and any needed support. How will the COVID-19 Community Team contact me if I have been exposed? Text messages from the COVID-19 Community Team will come from the number 45394 and emails will come from NC-Outreachemail@example.com. If a team member reaches out to you by phone, either NC OUTREACH (844-628-7223) or your local health department’s phone number will appear on your phone. The Team represents communities across North Carolina and will provide support and information in multiple languages. People should be sure to answer the call when the COVID-19 Community Team reaches out. Will my information be kept private? All information is confidential, and your personal information or name will not be released to anyone. Any information that you share with the COVID-19 Community Team is a private health record and is strictly confidential. Personal information will not be shared with other government agencies. The COVID-19 Community Team will never ask for your Social Security number, private financial information, credit card information, or send you a link without proper authentication procedures. If you are asked for this information, please hang up and call your local health department to report the incident. How will I know if I’m receiving a legitimate call, text, or email and not spam? Double-check that the text, email, or phone call is coming from one of the numbers or addresses listed above. If you are ever in doubt of whether or not an outreach is legitimate, please reach out to call your local health department to confirm. The COVID-19 Community Team will always begin with introducing themselves, naming the local health department they are calling on behalf of, and state that they are calling about an urgent public health matter. They will ask for some information to verify they are speaking with the correct person, but they never ask for anyone’s Social Security Number, bank or credit card numbers, or any other financial information at any time. If you are asked for this information, please hang up and call your local health department to report the incident. Any information shared with the COVID-19 Community Team is a private health record and is strictly confidential. How do I know if I’ve been near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19? In some instances, you may not know if you have encounter someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The COVID-19 Community Team will reach out by text, email, and/or phone call if: You have tested positive for COVID-19; or You were named by a person who tested positive for COVID-19 as having been in close contact (within 6 feet, for at least 15 minutes) with them while they were contagious. Additionally, if you are a SlowCOVIDNC user, you may receive an exposure notification via the app if you have been in close contact with another app user who has tested positive for COVID-19. Communication with the COVID-19 Community Team If the COVID-19 Community Team calls me, what will they ask? If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have encountered someone with COVID-19, the COVID-19 Community Team may call, text, and/or email you. The Community Team may verify basic information such as your first and last name, date of birth, or address. The Community Team may also ask you for information about your recent travel, who you have been in contact with, your symptoms and medical history (including vaccination status), and resources you may need to stay home safely. The Community Team will never ask for your Social Security Number, bank or credit card numbers, or any other financial information. If you are asked for this information, please hang up and call your local health department to report the incident. Any information that is shared with the COVID-19 Community Team is a private health record and is strictly confidential. Personal information will not be shared with other government agencies, and the names of individuals and contacts will not be released or shared. If I took an at-home test, will the COVID-19 Community Team contact me? If you complete a test that provides results at home without supervision from a testing provider, the COVID-19 Community Team will not be informed of your result or attempt to contact you. If you complete a test at home that is sent to a lab, the team will be informed of your result and will attempt to reach you by phone, text, or email. If you have any questions, you can reach out to the COVID-19 Community Team at 1-844-628-7223 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. Please see these links for at-home testing guidance and a helpful infographic. What if I do not receive any phone calls about my positive COVID-19 test result? During times when case numbers are high, outreach may be limited to text and email. If you have not received any communication and require further support, please call your local health department. What if I miss a call from COVID-19 Community Team? If a member of the COVID-19 Community Team calls and can’t get you on the phone, they will leave a voicemail. To protect your privacy, the voicemail will not say that the call is about COVID-19. You will know it is a member of the Community Team calling because they will: Identify themselves with their first name and the local health department they are calling on behalf of. Say “We are contacting you about an urgent public health matter. We would like to speak with you to provide further information and share guidance.” Provide a phone number to return the call, which would either be the COVID-19 Community Team call center at 1-844-628-7223 or your local health department number. Additionally, you will likely receive a text or email from the Community Team. Text messages from the COVID-19 Community Team will come from the number 45394, and emails will come from the email address NC-Outreachfirstname.lastname@example.org. What if I don’t have access to email or a telephone? If the Community Team cannot reach you via email, text, or phone, they may follow up with you in person. If you believe you have tested positive or believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 and have not received any communication from the COVID-19 Community Team, please reach out to your local health department. Do I have to respond if someone from the COVID-19 Community Team contacts me? No, but contact tracing only works if everyone does their part and responds. The COVID-19 Community Team will make multiple attempts to reach anyone who doesn’t or is unable to respond. People who have come in contact with someone with COVID-19 may not show any symptoms and don’t realize that they may be spreading the virus. Answering the phone when the COVID-19 Community Team calls, responding to their text messages or emails, and providing information helps to protect your loved ones and your community. I have already been vaccinated against COVID-19. Should I still respond to outreach from the COVID-19 Community Team? Yes! If you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, you should still respond to outreach from the COVID-19 Community Team. The team member may ask you questions about your vaccination status and, depending on your vaccination status and any symptoms you may have experienced can help discontinue further outreach to you if it is not needed. If I test positive for COVID-19, what kind of communication will I receive from the COVID-19 Community Team? If you test positive for COVID-19, you will likely receive a text or email notifying you of your COVID-19 diagnosis and a member of the COVID-19 Community Team may also reach out by phone. The purpose of this outreach is to make you aware of your positive diagnosis, provide guidance on isolation and make sure you have the resources and support that you may need while staying at home. Staying at home and avoiding contact with other members of your household can help minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 and protect your loved ones and neighbors. Additionally, the Community Team will ask about anyone else you have recently been near or in close contact with. This will allow the Community Team to reach people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and share any information and support they may need to stay at home until the risk of giving the virus to others has passed. The team will not share anyone’s name or personal information. This information is confidential and will remain private. Each of these steps slows the spread of COVID-19. This information can also be provided via a case-patient portal (found at the link provided in the text or email) which allows the ability to enter contacts on your phone or computer, or by providing it over the phone during a call from a Community Team member or by calling your local health department. Technology utilized for contact tracing Where is the information collected by the COVID-19 Community team stored? In addition to local health department resources, the COVID-19 Community Team uses software called the COVID-19 Community Team Outreach Tool to store and track information collected during the contact tracing process. This tool is a secure public health platform and keeps personal information private and confidential. How else is the COVID-19 Community Team Outreach Tool used in the contact tracing process? In addition to storing information, this tool helps the Community Team identify and reach out to people that may have encountered a person who has COVID-19. The tool can initiate text and e-mail messages to notify people who have tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19. Additionally, if a person opts into the digital process, it can initiate a daily text or email assessment to allow for an efficient means of communicating about changes in symptoms or resources needs. For people who have tested positive for COVID-19, the tool also contains a case-patient portal where they can enter information on their phone or computer about close contacts who they may have exposed. What is the SlowCOVIDNC app and what role does it play in contact tracing? A SlowCOVIDNC app is a supplemental tool to the contact tracing process. SlowCOVIDNC is a smartphone app that only conducts exposure notifications and does not involve any interaction with a public health department. The app uses Bluetooth to exchange anonymous tokens with nearby app users, and it will record if app users have been in close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer). If an app user tests positive and submits their result through the app by way of an anonymous pin, the app can then send anonymous exposure notifications to other app users who have been in close contact with this person. The app will recommend that these contacts self-quarantine and get tested for COVID-19, but is not connected to any public health departments and is separate from and supplement to the more traditional contact tracing process mentioned above. Get more information about the SlowCOVIDNC app. Contact tracing for K-12 schools How is North Carolina supporting K-12 schools with contact tracing as they prepare to resume in-person instruction? COVID-19 Contact Tracing Procedures for K-12 Schools can be accessed here. This resource is designed to help streamline processes for public and private K-12 schools. It will enable school leaders to: Provide instructions for case-patients and close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case-patient to be excluded from school. Share information about school-affiliated cases and close contacts with the local health department securely and efficiently. Communicate transparently with students, staff, and families; and Collaborate with their local health department to take any additional recommended actions. For additional guidance on health and safety for K-12 schools, review the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit. Additionally, this CDC science brief can be reviewed for further information regarding the Transmission of SARS-COV-2 inK-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs.