SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Some health departments along the Wasatch Front are piloting the Utah Department of Health’s new automatic contact tracing system this weekend.
If a person tests positive for COVID-19 and they miss a contact tracers phone call, they may receive a text message or email, with a secure link to answer questions about where they may have been exposed and who they may have been around.
“We’re gonna ask, ‘Have you been at a doctor’s office or a health care setting in the last 14 days?’ We’re gonna ask you about symptoms. We’ll ask you to provide the names and numbers of any of your close contacts,” said state health department spokesperson Jenny Johnson.
With a recent surge in cases, Johnson said this online system is meant to speed up tracing efforts.
“We’re hoping this automated contact tracing program allows our teams to reach out to you within the first 24-hours after we learn you’ve tested positive or that we get notified that you’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive,” she said.
Post-test, if a person receives a text or email from their health department, Johnson said no personal information will be asked in the message, only in the secure link.
“It will never ever ask you for anything like banking information, or credit card information or social security number. Public health never asks for that kind of information.”
The secure link will have a URL with ‘utah.gov’ in it. Once on the secure site, a health department logo will be featured.
Johnson said if a person would prefer to talk to someone on the phone, they can call the number that’s provided to them.
Utah has 13 local health departments and Johnson said Weber-Morgan, Davis, Salt Lake, and Utah health departments are participating in the pilot program.
Once this pilot program is complete and necessary adjustments are made, Johnson said automatic contact tracing will roll out statewide – and it is up to each health department to decide how they use the system.
“They can choose to use as much or little of the automated process as they want,” she said. “Some local health departments still have the capacity to call everybody who has tested positive and then calls their close contacts and then they can do that. Ideally, we want a human being talking to you to help answer your questions.”
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