If you test positive, labs will send link to start contact tracing

By , Daily Memphian Updated: February 02, 2021 12:31 PM CT | Published: February 02, 2021 12:31 PM CT
<strong>&ldquo;Our goal is that this would make things happen much more quickly,&rdquo; Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter says of a new contact-tracing survey it wants newly infected people to take.&nbsp;All answers are confidential and will be used only to help keep a case&rsquo;s family, friends, co-workers and community healthy, the Health Department says</strong>. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

“Our goal is that this would make things happen much more quickly,” Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter says of a new contact-tracing survey it wants newly infected people to take. All answers are confidential and will be used only to help keep a case’s family, friends, co-workers and community healthy, the Health Department says. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Starting Tuesday, Feb. 2, people who test positive for COVID can get a text from the lab processing their results as soon as they are in.

The text means newly infected people will know their status as soon as possible. It will include a link to a survey that will help the Shelby County Health Department quickly isolate them and immediately start tracing their contacts.

The survey will take about 10 minutes to complete and will include basic questions about the infected person, symptoms, close contacts, and information about the kind of work the person does and their living arrangements.


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The Health Department will notify the close contacts.

“Our goal is that this would make things happen much more quickly,” said Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter. “And as people get used to it, they’ll fill out the form online, and that allows us to have data more quickly as well.” 

All answers are confidential and will be used only to help keep a case’s family, friends, co-workers and community healthy, the Health Department says.

People who test negative will not receive the text.

Those who complete the survey do not have to do phone interviews with contact tracers at the Health Department.

They will receive an isolation letter and the documentation they will later need to show their employer to return to work.

The Health Department developed the link to sync with the local labs processing tests.


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“Sometimes, even though the labs are turning around in a day or two, it may take another three or four days for the state to report to us,” Haushalter said. “And that for us was an unacceptable turnaround time.”

The labs run their reports every two to four hours, she said, and will now be able to notify people who test positive on behalf of the Health Department nearly immediately.

The link directs citizens to a page on the Shelby County government website. If it does not, the link did not come from the Health Department and should not be opened. It is also important to note that the survey from the Health Department will not ask for immigration status, Social Security number, banking information or request any kind of payment.

Anyone who receives a link claiming to be a case investigation that is believed to be a scam should contact the Health Department at (901) 222-MASK (6275).

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contact tracing App Health Department
Jane Roberts

Jane Roberts

Longtime journalist Jane Roberts is a Minnesotan by birth and a Memphian by choice. She's lived and reported in the city more than two decades. She covers healthcare and higher education for The Daily Memphian.


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