MARSHALL (KMHL) – Local health officials say contact tracing is an important step to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

In a press release from Southwest Health and Human Services, officials say tracing the disease is a control measure and a patient support system used by Public Health to help fight the spread of the virus.

“Contact tracing is just one step in mitigating the effects of this virus,” said Southwest Health and Human Services Public Health Director, Carol Biren. “We need the communities’ help. We can do a better job notifying those who may have been exposed if we get accurate and timely information from those who are called.”

Health officials say after someone tests positive for the virus, they can expect a call from the Minnesota Department of Health usually within 24 hours of being notified by their health care provider.

Officials say it’s important to answer the calls from a contact tracer. Health officials say the contact tracers will work with patients to identify symptoms, provide education and pinpoint any close contacts.

Here are some things to think about, according to health officials prior to that call:

  1. What symptoms are you experiencing? When did they begin?
  2. Do you have underlying conditions? (diabetes, asthma, heart disease, etc.)
  3. Do you know where you were exposed? Have you had contact with a COVID-19 case?
  4. Who have you been in close contact with (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) starting two days before your symptoms started? Begin gathering their names and contact information, if possible.

Health officials add that a contact tracer will then also inform close contacts as to their potential exposure.