Managing COVID-19: Contact tracing

Coronavirus

COLUMBUS, Ga (WRBL) – It’s been more than three weeks since Georgia began to lift stay-at-home orders. Experts say it’s still early to tell what the trajectory of case numbers looks like for Georgia.

On April 24, Gov. Brian Kemp allowed barber shops, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and bowling alleys to reopen their doors under new guidelines. A few days later, dine-in restaurants were allowed to serve patrons.

Last week, Kemp announced he was further loosening restrictions on restaurants, daycare facilities and social gatherings. Kemp has said he will reimpose restrictions if the state sees a spike in cases.

The Georgia Department of Health says statewide testing has reportedly increased and the average number of new COVID-19 cases has declined more than 20 percent since the reopening date.

Epidemiologist Dr. Asante Hilts with The West Central Health District says one way to keep you and your family safe is by contact tracing.

“You are contact for COVID-19, if you have been within 6 feet of someone for at least 10 minutes, then you’re considered a contact to someone that has a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. Our recommendation is that if you’ve had exposure, you at least two days before you get tested,” said Dr. Hilts, DrPH, MPH-District Program Manager with the West Central Health District.

“So what we will do then is contact you, and give you information saying that you have been exposed by someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and we would like you to enroll in an active monitoring program to determine if you are going to develop symptoms over those 14 days,” Dr. Hilts said.

The program they have now is a text-based program.

“You will receive a text message from the Georgia Department of public health every day over the course of that 14-day quarantine period. If you develop symptoms, you can report those symptoms through the text message service. If you don’t have text capability, you will the option to call in your symptoms,” she continued.

You can still get tested at the West Central Health District. The CDC has also updated the symptoms to be tested that include the loss of taste and smell, repeated shaking with chills, along with the previously known symptoms.

Dr. Hiltz says your info as a positive will not be shared by the people who are called. She says its all just to help the next person from contracting it.

“But the only way it can be successful is if people are compliant with us so that when we call you, you help us help you by answering the questions, taking our phone calls and allowing us to give you educational information about how you can stay safe in the quarantine period.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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