Contact tracing is a tool public health uses to stop the spread of diseases. By answering the phone and talking to us when a public health worker calls you, you are helping stop the spread of COVID-19.
Handbook: COVID-19, After You Get Tested
If you have tested positive or are waiting for test results, tell your close contacts right away so they can quarantine.
Multnomah, Clackamas, Columbia and Washington County put together this comprehensive guide to help people who have been tested for COVID-19.
The document includes information on isolation and quarantine, what you can and can't do, how to tell close contacts you tested positive, telling your employer, ways to manage respiratory symptoms at home, how to stop the spread of germs, using a face covering properly and more.
How contact tracing works
When someone tests positive for COVID-19, it is reported to Washington County Public Health. We call the person who tested positive to find out how they are doing, who they have been near, and where they might have been exposed to the virus. We do not come to your home.
How will I know it's really Public Health calling me?
In many cases, the caller ID will say 503-846-8400, Washington County or Washington County Public Health. Our contact tracing staff have been issued cell phones by the county. Sometimes the caller ID will say "Washington County," but not all carriers support this.
If you do not answer, we will leave a message (with no private details) and ask you to call us back. If you are unsure about a call you received, you can call us at 503-846-8123 to make sure it was a legitimate call.
What questions do contact investigators ask?
- We ask where you have been and who you have had close contact with in the last few weeks. A close contact is someone you were within six feet of for at least 15 minutes in a 24-hour period, with or without face coverings.
- We ask about your health, housing situation and employment.
- We ask you if you have what you need to stay safe and recover. We can help you come up with a plan to stay home safely.
- We do not ask for social security numbers or credit cards. We do not ask about immigration status. We do not share your identity with the federal government.
What do you do with my answers?
The information you give helps us stop the disease from spreading. It is protected health information, so we keep it private.
The information you provide helps us to notify people who are at risk of getting COVID-19. We do not tell people who might have exposed them unless we have your permission. Sometimes we need to notify places you have been while infectious, such as a workplace. We will work with you to do this safely and privately.
What will I be asked to do?
We ask anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 to isolate. This means you should try to separate yourself from others in your household to help keep them from getting sick. This may mean extra cleaning if there are shared spaces that cannot be avoided (bathrooms, for example), wearing face coverings when you need to be around others, and avoiding sharing food and utensils.
Most people who are positive for COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care by getting rest, staying hydrated and taking over-the-counter medicines to feel better. It’s important to get immediate care if you have trouble breathing or have any other emergency warning signs.
What will the rest of my household be asked to do?
The people in your household are asked to quarantine. This means that they are asked to stay home for the time you are in isolation. Someone will call your household each day to see if any other household members have symptoms. If anyone else develops symptoms, we will help them get tested. If they are positive, they will also need to isolate from others until well.
What will you ask my close contacts to do?
We ask people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 to stay home for two weeks after the last time they were exposed and watch for any symptoms. This is called quarantine. Staying home the whole time is important because people can spread COVID-19 before they know they are sick.
What if I need help to be able to stay home?
We can help you come up with a plan to get groceries and other resources so you can stay home safely. Public Health will call you daily to see how you are doing and to see if you have developed symptoms. We make sure you have a plan for getting medical care if you develop symptoms.
Please, we urge you to talk to us and answer our questions when you receive a call from Public Health. We need your help to stop the spread of COVID-19. Thank you!
Additional resources, including fliers in multiple languages, are available on the Oregon Health Authority's website.