COVID-19 Contact Tracing
How has contact tracing changed as cases have increased?
Due to a high volume of new cases that may exceed our ability to reach every close contact, ADH is following CDC recommendations and prioritizing cases who were exposed within the previous six days. This means it is possible that you will not be reached by a contact tracer.
What should I do if I am positive?
You may still hear from a contact tracer, but you should go ahead and notify anyone you believe you may have exposed as well as your employer. Close contacts are generally those people who were within 6 feet of you for at least 15 minutes total beginning two days before your symptoms started or two days before your test was collected if you do not have symptoms.
What if I am a contact to a person with COVID-19?
If you have had close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19, you will be required to self-quarantine. A quarantine is needed because you may develop COVID-19 anytime during the virus’s incubation period. If you work in a critical infrastructure job, it may be possible for you to still work while under quarantine. The Arkansas Department of Health will coordinate such arrangements with your employer.
In addition, you will be encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 in case you already have COVID-19 but don’t have any symptoms yet. You will still be required to complete the quarantine, even if your test comes back negative, because you could still develop the illness later in the quarantine period.
What data is available?
The latest reports from our contact tracing partners are available here.
Who is considered a contact?
Contact tracing focuses on close contacts while a positive patient was infectious. The infectious period begins 48 hours before the patient’s symptoms began. If the person with COVID-19 never developed symptoms, the infectious period begins the 48 hours before the positive test was collected. A person is considered a close contact if they have been within 6 feet of the patient for at least 15 minutes. If a person is thought to be a close contact, then a contact tracer will give them a call. If the exposure wasn’t within 6 feet, if it didn’t last 15 minutes or more, or if it occurred before the infectious period, that person would not be considered a close contact and will not receive a phone call from a contact tracer.
What if I am a contact to a person with COVID-19?
If you have had close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19, you will be required to self-quarantine for a period of time because you may develop COVID-19 anytime during the virus’s incubation period. Click here for details on the quarantine process. If you work in a critical infrastructure job, it may be possible for you to still work while under quarantine. The Arkansas Department of Health will coordinate such arrangements with your employer.
In addition, you will be encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 in case you already have COVID-19 but don’t have any symptoms yet. You will still be required to complete the quarantine period, even if your test comes back negative, because you could still develop the illness later in the quarantine period.
When will I receive a call?
Case investigators reach out to COVID-19 patients shortly after a positive test result is confirmed in order to learn about the patient’s close contacts. The contact tracer then calls each of the close contacts to inform them about their exposure to COVID-19 and give them instructions about how to quarantine. However, the high volume of new cases may exceed our ability to contact every person. ADH is following CDC recommendations and is prioritizing cases that were exposed within the previous 6 days. This means that some contacts won’t be reached.
What if I never heard from a contact tracer?
You might not hear from a contact tracer if the exposure you had was not enough to put you at increased risk of COVID-19 transmission. For example, the exposure may not have been for at least 15 minutes, or it may have occurred prior to the infectious period. It is also possible that your exposure was more than six days earlier, so your case was not prioritized. Please email us at ADH.CoronaVirus@arkansas.gov or call us at 1-800-803-7847, if you have not been reached by a contact tracer and have questions or need additional information.
What can contact tracers do for close contacts?
Contact tracers reach out to contacts to help them safely quarantine, find alternate arrangements as necessary, and help them get tested for COVID-19, if recommended. The ADH can also help Arkansans with things such as food delivery or alternative housing if they need extra support to safely self-quarantine.
Contact tracers also educate individuals on the need to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19, and they request permission to enroll the person in the SARA (Situational Awareness Response Assistant) Alert system.
What number will they call from?
Case investigators will call from a variety of phone numbers. It’s possible you won’t recognize the number, but it’s important to answer or return the call if it goes to voicemail. A contact tracer will then follow up and reach out to your close contacts. This call will come from a different phone number. Many of our contact tracers will use these numbers:
- (877) ARCOV19 or (877) 272-6819
- (833) CVD-2019 or (833) 283-2019
UAMS/COPH will be using 501-686-5875. If calling a land line it will identify UAMS as the caller, this UAMS identifier will not show if the call is to a cell.
How can I verify the call is legitimate?
The case investigator and contact tracer will never ask for your Social Security number, bank account number, or credit card. If the caller ever discusses money, that’s a sign that it is not a legitimate Department of Health investigator. If you want to verify that you have been contacted by a Health Department case investigator or contact tracer, you may call (800) 803-7847.
If you haven’t spoken to a tracer on the phone to enroll in the automated SARA Alert program for reporting symptoms, beware of text messages asking you to click on a link. It could be a scammer. A tracer will not send you any links to click before speaking with you on the phone.
If you believe you have been contacted by a scammer posing as an official, you can report these calls to the Attorney General’s office online at www.ArkansasAG.gov, by emailing OAG@ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982. Please note the time of the call and the number it came from when you report it.
What is SARA Alert?
SARA Alert is an automated system that sends a daily email, text message or automated phone call to individuals identified as a close contact of a COVID-19-positive person. Enrollees are asked if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, and if symptoms are reported, SARA Alert flags the case for follow-up by ADH staff. SARA Alert also allows the ADH to compile reports for identification of specific areas to target for testing and to provide information for decision-making by state leaders.
Will I receive a letter allowing me to return to work?
ADH will no longer issue documentation stating when an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 may return to work or other obligations. Employers are to use the guidance on isolation in determining their own return to work policy.
How can I apply to be a contact tracer?
The Arkansas Department of Health has contracted with two firms, General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) and Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care (AFMC), to handle contact tracing.
- Click here to apply for contact tracing jobs through GDIT
- For AFMC positions
Celia McDonald, Staffing Account Manager
Phone: 866-820-0132 x701
- Click here to apply for contract tracing jobs through the College of Public Health