What is coronavirus contact tracing?

The Minnesota Department of Health is tracing COVID-19 contacts.

According to the lead case investigator for the Minnesota Department of Health, contact tracing is identifying anyone who may have contact with someone who has a confirmed illness like coronavirus.

“Essentially that’s what epidemiology is. We are medical detectives,” MDH lead case investigator Cody Schardin said.

Every person in Minnesota who tests positive for Coronavirus gets a call from one of the Minnesota Department of Health’s case investigators. The investigators will ask a that person about their demographic information, what their symptoms are like and who they’ve come in contact with since two days before their symptoms started.

“We would not necessarily consider going to the grocery store as a contact. The CDC, their contact recommendations are within six feet for 15 minutes or more however each situation is rather unique,” Schardin said.

Schardin said MDH will then contact people who have been identified as someone who’s had physical contact with a person who has tested positive for Coronavirus. Those people will not automatically be tested, but may contact their health care provider to get one. He says they advise those people to stay home, quarantine and treat it as though they may be COVID-19 positive.

“It gets people more engaged in monitoring their health and paying attention to symptoms they may not have paid attention to before,” Schardin said.

With more testing and more confirmed positive coronavirus cases, Schardin says the demand for more case investigators is growing.

“Every week we’re training more and more people to come on board, increasing our capacity to get more interviews done on a daily basis,” Schardin said.

On Wednesday leaders at the Minnesota Department of Health say right now they have around 200 case investigators. They say they need around 4,000.