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By Garrett County Joint Information Center Team

As COVID-19 cases in Garrett County continues to increase, it is important to understand that contact tracing is a critical part of reducing the spread of the virus.

Once a positive case is identified, the next step to reduce the spread is a process known as contact tracing. If any potential exposures to COVID-19 are discovered through contact tracing activities, individuals that have had close personal contact will be notified by the contact tracing team. This team works closely with neighboring counties, including in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, to prevent and minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our area.

CDC defines a close contact as someone who has been within 6 feet or closer to a positive case for 15 minutes or more. If you do not hear from contact tracers by phone, you have not been identified and are not on the list of close contacts.

“As the positive numbers in the county increase, personnel from state and local public health are working to investigate the positive cases, and trace their contacts, and will be in touch with any individuals with potential exposure,” said Dr. Jennifer Corder, Deputy Health Officer for Garrett and Allegany Counties. “Please make sure you answer the call when you see either Garrett County Health Department or MD COVID on your caller ID. Calls from contact tracers could show up as either one.”

To maintain the privacy of persons who test positive for COVID-19, specific locations were these persons live or work are not disclosed by the health department, but sometimes are disclosed by worksites or the individuals themselves. While outbreaks within nursing homes are reported by the name of the facility, the individual names of the patients are never disclosed.

Throughout the pandemic state and local health officials have required or recommended various general safety precautions such as wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, washing hands and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, in an attempt to slow the spread the virus.