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Head of Kentucky Contact Tracing Effort Asks Residents to Answer the Call

Lake Cumberland District Health Department/Facebook

Kentucky is among states nationwide using contact tracing to combat COVID-19. Public health officials hope they can contain the spread of the coronavirus by contacting those who have been around an infected person.

Kentucky is using $78 million in federal CARES Act funds to strengthen its contact tracing efforts.  Through the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, 710 additional contact tracers are being hired to assist county health departments statewide.

If you've been exposed to COVID-19, you'll receive a phone call from a Registered Nurse or clinician from your local health department.

"They will describe for them that they've been exposed to COVID-19 and what they need to do to protect themselves from the spread of the disease, and that could involve anything from just monitoring their symptoms daily for a period of time...if it's a high-risk exposure, they may be asked to quarantine for a period of time," said Mark Carter, the executive adviser of Kentucky's contact tracing effort.

Carter said state law grants local county health departments in Kentucky the power to enforce health recommendations.

"We're finding once we're able to get people on the phone and talk to them, there's a high degree of compliance with what we like to call the guidance from the local health department. So, we haven't seen a lot of resistance that would rise to the level of having to take some sort of enforcement action."

To secure the contact tracing process, Kentucky is implementing an 800 number to help identify the origin of calls made from a contact tracer.

"We're going to remedy things with our "800" number which is, 844-KENTUCKY-TRACE, or KY TRACE, that will go live at least by the end of July.  For most carriers we think will be able to show that on someone's cell phone I.D. so that they know that it's the call they need to answer," Carter said.

Carter added that all information gathered is kept confidential and contact tracers will never ask for Social Security information.

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