What lessons can we learn from the contact tracers?

Testing and Contact Tracing

We talked to someone who has been working as a state contact tracer since May. She gave us a list of practical things you can do today to make contact tracers’ jobs easier:

1️⃣ Clear out your voicemail so they can leave a message! 📪

2️⃣ Make sure you have a thermometer at home. 🌡️

3️⃣ If you start feeling ANY symptom, write down when it happened so that later, if it turns out you have COVID, the contact tracer can help you figure out when to END your isolation period!

4️⃣ Keep your appointments in a calendar to help you recall any places you may have been (even if it’s just a casual visit with friends). 📅

5️⃣ Get your contacts’ phone numbers if you don’t have them–contact tracers can’t use FB messenger! ☎️

Here are a few other highlights from our interview:

☑️ What are the highest risk kinds of activities? Work (especially service workers); eating in restaurants, going to bars. 🍻

☑️ Contact tracers *provide* lots of information, in addition to collecting it. They provide information to the people they call about what to do, how long to quarantine, when to seek medical attention, and even sometimes deliver the news that someone has tested positive. ➕

☑️ The most important skill for contact tracers: Empathy. People want to talk, they have questions, and they value the safe space it provides. 👐

☑️ What are the biggest misinformation threats about viral transmission? 🗫 Risks of small gatherings. Most people have gotten the message to avoid large crowds, but lots of people are still having small gatherings outside their household bubble. Serial small gatherings are also a big problem! And yes, people were exposed at Thanksgiving. 🦃

☑️ Interpreting a negative test is still a challenge for many people. 🧪A negative might just mean too early to test. It takes a week after exposure for a test to become a *trustworthy* test. Rapid tests are especially prone to false negatives. If you can’t get a rapid test, don’t sweat it… it’s probably better to wait!

☑️ Some days it is hard. 😔 Being a contact tracer is heavy emotional work. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others (sound familiar?) This contact tracer’s advice: hold onto the joyful moments, like when someone is cleared and can come out of quarantine!

☑️ People tell you about alllll their weird symptoms, from their toe rashes 🦶 to their hair falling out 👩🏽‍🦲 and everything in between💩.

Thank you so much to our contact tracer Allison D. for taking the time to tell us!

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