Contact tracing in the time of COVID-19

By Courtney Midkiff - Contributing columnist

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Unfortunately, Meigs County presently is seeing increasing community spread of COVID-19. This is documented daily by your Meigs County Health Department (MCHD) which reports the number of confirmed and probable cases, hospitalizations and, most recently, COVID-19-related deaths at and via local media outlets. While the declared global, national, state and local pandemic certainly has increased the amount of contact tracing being done by your MCHD staff (including evenings and weekend), local health departments (LHDs) such as your MCHD conduct contact tracing for various infectious diseases.

Contact tracing is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and helps protect you, your family and our communities. Your MCHD is grateful to be the recipient of grant funds via the Ohio Department of Health to support response efforts resulting from COVID-19.

Contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19 by letting people know they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and should monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19; helping people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 get tested; asking people to self-isolate if they have COVID-19 or self-quarantine if they are a close contact.

If you’re sick, LHD workers (nurses and other healthcare professionals) interview you and find out who you may have come into contact with and potentially exposed to your illness. Limiting contacts means the virus isn’t able to infect other people. The virus lives in people. Limiting contacts means the virus has nowhere to live. For COVID-19, a close contact is anyone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting from 48 hours (or two days) before the person had any symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19.

If you were around someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are a Meigs County resident, someone from your MCHD may call you. During contact tracing, the MCHD staff will not ask you for money, Social Security number, bank account information, salary information, credit card numbers.

If someone from the MCHD calls you, answer the call to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in your community. Tell the health department staff if you develop symptoms of COVID-19. If your symptoms worsen or become severe, you should seek emergency medical care.

Any information you share with your MCHD staff is confidential. This means that your name and personal and medical information will be kept private. Your name will not be shared with those you came in contact. The MCHD will only notify people you were in close contact with (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) that they might have been exposed to COVID-19. Your information will only be shared with those who may need to know, like your health care provider.

If you were around someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, such as older adults and people with other medical conditions, if possible. If you have been around someone with COVID-19, stay home away from others for 14 days (self-quarantine) after your last contact with that person and monitor your health. If you have a fever, cough or other symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and away from others (except to get medical care or testing, if recommended). If you need support or assistance while in self-quarantine, your MCHD or other community organizations may be able to provide assistance. For instance, your MCHD has assisted two positive COVID 19 cases by shopping for and delivering groceries during their quarantine.

Finally, we all need to be monitoring our health by:

· Watching for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19. Remember, symptoms may appear two-14 days after exposure to COVID-19.

· Staying home

· Practicing Social Distancing

· Getting adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals

· Washing hands often with water and soap (20 seconds or longer)

· Drying hands with a clean towel or air dry your hands

· Covering your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing

· Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands or after touching surfaces

· Cleaning and disinfect “High-Touch” surfaces often

· Calling before visiting your doctor

· Practicing good hygiene habits

For more information about COVID 19, please contact your MCHD at 740-992-6626 Monday-Friday from 8AM-4PM or visit or

Sources: Centers for Disease Control, Ohio Department of Health

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By Courtney Midkiff

Contributing columnist

Courtney C. Midkiff, BSC, is the MCHD Administrator.

Courtney C. Midkiff, BSC, is the MCHD Administrator.