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How Riverside County is conducting ‘contact tracing’ of people in contact with the coronavirus

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As California begins to re-open, the state is ramping up a massive contact-tracing program to identify people who may have been exposed to coronavirus without knowing it.

News Channel 3 looks into how Riverside County is conducting contact tracing and explains what to do if you are called by a contact tracer.

"These are simply disease detectives,” Governor Newsom calls them.

Riverside County is amping up their contact tracers as the county pushes forward to reopen.

“We previously had about 70 contact tracers and we just went through training of an additional 30 so we now have a total of 100 contact tracers,” Brooke Federico, Public Information Officer for Riverside University Health System told News Channel 3 on Wednesday.

The idea of contact tracing is nothing new.

“Contact tracing is something that happens all the time in Riverside County,” Federico said.

Contact tracers were typically used to trace measles or tuberculosis outbreaks. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, contract tracers are critical to slowing the spread and speeding up the county reopening.

“Right now we are expanding our contact tracers specifically for COVID-19, coronavirus response,” Federico said.

Federico said they are keeping up with the demand, however, they need more tracers to increase the number of contacts made each day.

“Currently, we are looking to meet between 200 and 300 contact tracers," Federico said.

If you are contacted by a contact tracer, here’s how it works.

“We have a team of professionals who contact someone who has a confirmed case,” Federico said.

They’ll ask the infected person a series of questions.

“They talk to them about where they have been, where they may have been potentially exposed and then they will talk to them about their contacts,” she said.

And so the tracing begins.

“Our contact tracing team will reach out by phone to those individuals that the person may have had contact with,” she added.

They’ll explain to them that they may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

“They will not say who they may have been exposed by and that is an important piece for privacy purposes,” Federico said.

Contact tracers will then ask the person to get tested and self-quarantine.

Tracers will follow-up with the person until their case is closed.

Right now, contact tracers are looking into approximately 1,912 active cases of coronavirus in Riverside County.

It’s also important to be aware of contact tracer scams. If contacted by a county contact tracer by phone, they will never ask for your social security number or any financial information.

Coronavirus / News Headlines / Top Stories

Caitlin Thropay

Caitlin Thropay is the Weekend Morning Anchor and Lifestyle Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News Leader. Learn more about Caitlin here.

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