Contract tracing hurdle: People who don't answer their phones

Posted at 6:11 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 18:11:25-04

Contact tracing programs are seen as a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, contact trace investigators are running into a problem, people who don't pick up their phones.

WMAR-2 News spoke to Baltimore City's Health Commissioner, Dr. Letitia Dzirasa. Dr. Dzirasa said people who test positive for COVID-19 are either not answering phone calls from health officials or choosing not to provide the information needed.

"I think most people are unsure of what contact trace investigators are doing with the information they're provided with," she said.

The information collected, according to health officials, allows for health professionals to follow up with an individual's close contacts, alerting those who make have been exposed to COVID-19. The notification is done without ever revealing the identity of patient zero.

"All information remains confidential," said Dr. Dzirasa. "Our contact trace investigators are empathetic. They're relatable to a person and they understand the situation. They understand people may be nervous about sharing information."

While it's unclear how many people are ignoring contact tracing calls, health officials believe any missed connection between a positive COVID-19 individual and another person could delay potential life saving information.

"When you provide contract trace investigators with contact information it can be helpful in that we can give proper advice to those potentially impacted," said Dr. Dzirasa. "By answering the phone and cooperating you could potentially stop the spread of the disease."