MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Every time a positive case of COVID-19 is identified, the Alabama Department of Public Health launches an investigation. It’s called contact tracing and it works to determine who may have been exposed to the virus.
As part of that investigation, health department workers, health professionals, and medical students start making calls and asking questions about where and who people have been and been around. They may even ask people to self-quarantine for up to two weeks.
“t’s a really good opportunity for them as young health care, pre-health care professionals for them to learn more about a virus they will be dealing without throughout their career. Because this is a virus we know we will be dealing with in one way or another,” said Dr. Karen Landers, Northern District Medical Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Those calls can sound a lot like a scammer. So how can we tell if it's the real thing?
According to Landers, a contact tracer will never ask you for your social security number, or any bank account information, or any information that could put your identity at risk. And, if you want, you can call them back to verify their identity.
It's a process, doctors say, is critical right now.
"The places that we really focus on are the people who live in their household and also people that they've been within six feet for 15 minutes or greater. Those are going to be the highest risk people that we want to make sure we're isolating and trying to break the chain of transmission for COVID-19," explained Dr. Wesley Willeford with the Jefferson County Department of Health.
Many of us don't answer the phone if you don't recognize the number, but it's important to remember it could be a public health worker doing contact tracing.
Landers says contact tracers have contacted more than 13,000 people.