Thursday, May 21, 2020
Better Watch Out! I am a Certified Contact Tracer
I spent much of yesterday getting certified as a Covid-19 Contact Tracer. This online course is offered by Johns Hopkins University through Coursera. It's free, and I could add this certificate to my resume if I had one.
It's billed as a 5-6 hour course, but it took me a full day to get through it. I now know the difference between isolation (that's for a person with Covid-19) and quarantine (that's for a person who has had contact with someone who has Covid-19). I know that a person who is infected with the virus experiences an incubation period before symptoms are manifested. It can be as short as two days or as long as 14 days, with the average incubation period being 5 days. In some cases the person is asymptomatic.
The contact tracer gets in touch with a person who has been diagnosed with Covid-19 for three reasons. First, the person is asked to isolate himself for at least ten days. Second, he is asked to identify any close or proximate contacts he has had, starting with two days before he began to manifest symptoms. Third, you identify resources that could assist with things like food, childcare, rent and medications.
The contact tracer also gets in touch with all close or proximate contacts that the Covid-19 person has had, starting two days before he knew he was sick. A close contact would be a spouse or someone living with you. A proximate contact would be someone you spoke with for 15 minutes or more from a distance of less than six feet. It could also be people who are farther away if you share an office for extended periods. This unfortunate soul is asked to quarantine himself for 14 days from the date of contact.
During this online class, I also learned about technology to help people know if they've been exposed. The application Novid helps you anonymously to trace your exposure to Covid-19. You download this application to your smartphone, and it keeps track of contacts with others who also have downloaded the application. If you or one of them contracts Covid-19, you change your status to "I have tested positive for Covid-19," and Novid then notifies all contacts. Similarly, you are notified if a contact has tested positive. Neither your identity nor that of a contact is revealed. Then it's up to you to self-quarantine.