Minnesota health department will send text messages to people who had COVID-19 exposure

The Minnesota Department of Health says it will soon begin to use text messaging to get in contact with people who have been exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19.

The text will only inform the recipient that an interviewer with the Department of Health will be calling.

State officials say they are adding the service to aid their efforts to contact trace COVID-19 cases. Now, they are asking Minnesotans to do their part and answer the call.

"We have information and resources to share with Minnesotans, but we understand that many people are wary of answering a phone call from a number they don’t recognize," said Chris Elvrum with the Minnesota Department of Health. "Sending the text lets people know we’re going to call and even tells them what number to expect the call from. Adding this tool boosts our chances of slowing the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the number of people who answer the call and successfully isolate themselves."

The message from the health department will read: "Answer the Call: State and local public health department staff will be calling you with important information about your health. Please answer the call from xxx-xxx-xxxx. This is an automated text message, please do not reply."

When you get a call, case interviewers will ask you about your symptoms, people you may have been in contact with, and provide information on preventing further spread.

Officials say interviewers will never ask for a Social Security number or any personal financial information like your bank account or credit card number.

The texting program will begin starting Monday, November 16.