Contact tracing explained

Estimated reading time: 2 min

It is important for anyone who has been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19 to help professionally trained CSU public health employees trace your contacts with others who may now be at risk of becoming ill or infecting others.

The university’s trained public health experts track and trace illnesses and exposures. CSU Public Health contact tracers are trained on and follow Centers for Disease Control requirements and best practices for contact tracing and addressing potential exposure.

Locating and isolating individuals who become ill or who have been in contact with anyone known to have COVID-19 can help slow the spread of the disease. To do this, Colorado State University has assembled a team of trained contact tracing case investigators who gather information about faculty, staff and students who may have been exposed to the virus.

What is close contact?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “close contact” as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period, starting from 48 hours before illness onset until the time the patient is isolated.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can spread rapidly from person to person. Those who have been in close contact with an infected person may not show symptoms, but can still spread the coronavirus to others.

Beware of Scams: During contact tracing,  public health department professionals will not ask you for money, gift cards, Social Security numbers, bank account information, salary information, credit card numbers. 

Case Identified

If a CSU student or employee reports having COVID-19 symptoms, a positive test for the coronavirus, or having been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19 on the COVID Reporter, the university’s public health office will open a case.

Case Investigation

A trained public health team member

  • will contact the individual to gather information about their suspected or confirmed infection.
  • works with the person to recall everyone with whom they had close contact with others who live, learn, teach or work on a CSU campus while potentially infectious.

Contact Tracing

Once the public health team member has gathered names of those who may have been in contact with the individual, the public health team member will reach out to those individuals to learn more about the nature of the contact and potential exposure.

  • Answer your phone when a public health team member calls. Your cooperation and compliance with public health directions can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the CSU community.
  • Receiving a call from a public team health member does not mean you have contracted COVID-19; it just means we need your help to keep the coronavirus from spreading to others.
  • CSU public health officials help the individual remember everyone they had a close contact with during the time they could be spreading the virus to others. They do this through a series of questions and conversations.
  • They do not reveal the names of the people with COVID-19 to others. Positive test results are confidential medical information.

Contact Support

Everyone contacted receives education, information, and support. If the public health team member determines that a person meets close contact criteria, they also receive information about physical distancing, self-monitoring, self isolation, quarantining and preventative measures, and their potential to spread the virus to others even if they are asymptomatic.

Quarantine and Isolation

In addition, people who test positive for COVID-19 are isolated and people who are close contacts are quarantined.

The CSU public health office has authority to issue mandatory testing and public health requirements that may include isolation or quarantine. See the COVID-19 policy for more information.