Hays County releases procedure for COVID-19 contact tracing

Hays County has released its procedure for tracing those who may have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

Hays County Local Health Department and Epidemiologist Eric Schindler explained the process in a press release, stating, "In any infectious disease outbreak, it is critical to trace contacts to ensure that individuals who may have been exposed to the disease are evaluated and treated if necessary." 

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Below is the process Hays County follows for COVID-19: 

Unconfirmed cases

If a member of the public contacts officials believing they contracted coronavirus but are self-monitoring and do not wish to be tested, they will be asked about anyone they may have been in contact with recently. 

If it is determined they do not know of any exposure to someone who tested positive for the virus by a lab, they are asked to notify their friends and family and inform them to monitor themselves for the virus. "This self-monitoring should be sustained for 14 days starting at the last contact date with the suspected COVID-19 individual. 

Confirmed cases 

If a member of the public tests positive, a representative will contact the patient and start the contact tracing 14 days prior to symptom onset. 

"Most people have self-quarantined for 2 weeks by now, so they have only been around household family and conducted some errands out in public. That makes it difficult to determine where they contracted COVID-19.," the press release stated. 

Confirmed cases are asked to provide names and phone numbers of people they have been around in the past 14 days and those people will be contacted. Those cases will be interviewed for coronavirus symptoms and informed they may have been exposed to the virus. They are also asked if they aware if they have had any close contact with lab-confirmed coronavirus cases.   

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"If the person has only been around household family and been to a couple of public places for groceries and errands, the contact tracing ends there. It is well known that we have community spreading of COVID-19, so issuing an alert every time someone mentions a specific public place would not be useful," the press release states. 

According to Hays County, grocery stores comprise about 95% of the public places that COVID-19 patients say they have been too.

Confirmed healthcare worker cases 

According to the county, if a COVID-19 patient is a healthcare provider or first responder, the contact tracing is considerably more involved. Every person that individual has come in contact with over the past 14 days will be contacted. "The vulnerable populations these professionals interact with require the utmost protection," the press release said. 

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As of April 15, Hays County has 105 confirmed cases and one death from the virus. The public is asked to continue following CDC social distancing guidelines and practice health protective behaviors as it will drastically lower their odds of contracting the virus. 



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