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Notification of exposure to COVID-19 explained

As communities continues to reopen, the Chippewa County Department of Public Health (CCDPH), has received several questions from community members with concern about exposure to the virus, while supporting local businesses and outdoor recreation areas. The CCDPH understands these concerns.

Ensuring those exposed to the virus self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms, is crucial in preventing the spread of the virus. The CCDPH uses several strategies to notify community members when exposure happens.

When public health receives notification of an individual testing positive for COVID-19, they first call the person who tested positive, to inform them of their results and complete a contact tracing interview.

“Contact tracing is a key public health strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19,” said Angela Weideman, Chippewa County health officer/director. “We work with the individual to determine anyone they had close contact with and locations they visited. Identified close contacts are provided information so they understand their risk, how to self-quarantine and how to monitor themselves for illness.”

Close contacts are defined as those who have been within 6 feet of a person who tests positive for a prolonged period (over 15 minutes). To protect patient privacy, contacts are informed that they may have been exposed to an infected person, but are not told the identity of the person.

When an individual visits a location where they have been in close contact for a prolonged period with others and public health is unable to identify the contacts, public notification may be necessary. Public notification is when the health department releases to the public the name of location(s) where positive COVID-19 cases visited.

Additional factors that are considered, are the number of unconnected confirmed cases that visited the same location while contagious and if the business is able to provide the health department with a list of people who were close contacts at the location.

Businesses are not required to disclose to the public if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, but they can chose to do so. Businesses and the health department are not allowed to release the name of individuals or employees who test positive, to the public or co-workers.

Businesses may choose to close, in order to protect their employees and patrons. However, in most cases, it is not required.