NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The New Haven Health Department has been spearheading contact tracing efforts in Connecticut in the fight against COVID-19. The Health Director says 170 volunteers are working with the city to contact those who test positive to hopefully find out when and where they were exposed to the virus.
A portion of those volunteers is students from Yale University who work as city agents with the Health Department to make those difficult phone calls to residents in New Haven who test positive for COVID-19.
Tyler Shelby, one of the contact-tracing organizers, said of the effort, “We’ve demonstrated a great model for other cities to replicate.”
The core of the tracing involves identifying cases and hotspots in the city and getting those residents who have come in contact with a coronavirus-positive patient to isolate and get tested if needed.
When somebody tests positive that sort of data gets added to a state database, and then all of the positive tests for New Haven are filtered out by the local health department, and then those folks are sort of passed on to our community team, and then the team calls those individuals and they are responsible for checking with them.– Tyler Shelby/ Organizer, Contract Tracing/ New Haven, CT
So what will that phone call look like?
We ask about the symptoms, the onset, and then we ask about the activities they had during the time period.– Paulina Luna, Volunteer, Contact Tracing/ New Haven, CT
You may be wondering about privacy concerns.
The Health Department tells News 8, all of the information you give over the phone is confidential.
Christopher Scheneck, another volunteer for contact-tracing explained, “All of the volunteers get training and we maintain confidentiality…So we collect the minimum necessary information we need to conduct this public health intervention.”
The ultimate goal is to flatten the curve as the state launches its own contact-tracing efforts.
Maritza Bond, New Haven’s Health Director said, “We wanted to make sure that early on, that number one we were identifying positive cases and number two ensuring that they were going to be isolated.”
Now, the health director tells News 8 there have been reported instances of phone call scams, but something to remember is if someone claiming to be from the health department attempts to solicit money from you, hang up immediately.