Submitted by Washington State Department of Health
COVID-19 in Washington is now spreading faster than before among younger people and people of color. Most people who get COVID-19 will recover nicely. Even so, none of us wants to be the person who got someone else sick or made someone deathly ill. Let us help you with that!
If you get an unexpected call from the health department, answer the phone. If you miss a call, they will leave a voice mail or text you. Call them back. These are contact tracers, and they are calling because one of your friends has been diagnosed with COVID-19. You have been exposed, and your friend wants to make sure you don’t spread it to your loved ones. The health department will keep all your information confidential. That is, they won’t tell anyone you were exposed to COVID-19, and they won’t tell you which of your friends has been diagnosed with COVID-19, unless that person gave them permission to.
At the time you get this call, you may feel perfectly well. People who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 can sometimes spread the disease before they get any symptoms at all.
The contact tracers will ask you to quarantine yourself for 14 days. This is the amount of time it can take to develop symptoms of COVID-19. If 14 days pass and you don’t have any symptoms, your quarantine is over and you can rejoin public life. If you do develop symptoms, you will have to stay isolated until your fever has been gone for 72 hours and your other symptoms have improved.
The contact tracers you talk to will make sure you have what you need to quarantine or isolate yourself. What is it that you are worried about needing to leave the house for? Let them know — is it grocery delivery? Medication pick up? Dog walking? It’s really important that you stay in the house and not expose anyone else. Let us help make sure you don’t need to leave the house.
Contact tracing is a classic and trusted tool of public health. It worked to help eradicate smallpox; it works today to stop the spread of tuberculosis; and it can work for COVID-19. Contact tracing works because nobody wants to spread a disease. Nobody wants to make their friends sick. We care about each other and take responsibility for protecting our vulnerable friends and family. Friends don’t let friends spread COVID-19.
Practice compassion. We have all the tools we need to stop the spread of COVID-19. Now we all need to work together to stay six feet apart, cover our faces in public, and answer the call from the health department.
P.S. — Due to furloughs in response to the severe economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this update will no longer be daily. The public health response itself continues full speed.
Information changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.
Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at www.doh.wa.gov/coronavirus. You can also contact the DOH call center, 6 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week at 1–800–525–0127.