The Rebound Detroit: Contact tracing is key in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan

The Rebound Detroit: Contact tracing is key in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan
Posted at 10:08 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 22:08:41-04

The business of contact tracing is a serious one in the State of Michigan.

"So the way it works is individuals who go gets tests, all of the info from the tests eventually makes its way back to our central IT system," said Jonathan Warsh, Chief of Staff of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Meaning if you test positive for the virus, the county you live in gets notified immediately and that’s where the tracing process begins.

"So, contact tracing is asking cases who’ve they’ve been in close contact with and we define close contact as within 6 ft. for 15 minutes or more," Kayleigh Blaney.

If one of those close contacts happens to be you, expect a phone call.

Kayleigh Blaney is an epidemiologist with Oakland County, now doing double duty helping in contact tracing. She says it’s all done over the phone, questions, and then a thorough explanation of the quarantining requirements.

"Once identified, you have to stay home for 14 days from the date that you were exposed," said Blaney.

Finding the right people to talk to is easy but health experts say the biggest challenge is gaining the trust of those who are afraid to reveal their personal information.

"We do try to do a lot of education about how seriously we take privacy," said Blaney.

"The info is entirely confidential," said Warsh. "It's not us monitoring cell phones or tracking people with GPS,"

It doesn’t help that the FTC is reporting contact tracing scams on the rise. With several complaints about a text message circulating baiting recipients to click on a fraudulent link.

The health department could send a text message, but if you’re worried it's a scam, call the health department before clicking on any possible malware.

Here’s the Rebound Rundown:

Real contact tracers won’t ask you for money nor require your bank account, credit card, or SS#

Real contact tracers with leave you a voicemail with a legitimate return phone number

Only open a link in your text message when it's been verified

If you have doubts, call the health department directly to verify the caller’s identity.

For those of you out there simply interested in a contact tracing job, the state does have some openings and expects more hiring in the fall ahead of a potential surge.

In the meantime, if have a pandemic related question or concern we want to hear from you. Send us an email

For jobs in contact tracing