Answer the Call: COVID-19 Case Investigations and Contact Tracing

What are Case Investigations and Contact Tracing?

Case investigations and contact tracing are tools used to control and prevent the spread of diseases, like COVID-19. The purpose of a case investigation is to talk to people who have a disease (cases) to learn about their illness and if they have exposed others. The purpose of contact tracing is to find people who may have been exposed to a case (contacts) and are possibly infected. This can keep more people from getting sick.

How Does Arlington County Do Case Investigations and Contact Tracing?

Case Investigations

Contact Tracing

Arlington County staff will:

Collect case information from healthcare providers and laboratories, who are required by law to report COVID-19 cases to Arlington County

Collect close contact information from interviewed cases

Call cases to ask about their close contacts

  • People who have symptoms can spread COVID-19 starting two days before their symptoms began
  • People who do not have symptoms can spread COVID-19 starting two days before they tested positive

Call close contacts to let them know they were exposed to COVID-19

Advise cases what to do if they have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive, and give guidance on isolating themselves from others

Advise close contacts what to do, especially if they have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive, and give guidance on quarantining

Make sure cases have basic needs met while they stay home, such as food, medicine, and cleaning supplies. For more information on resources, call the Arlington County Department of Human Services at 703-228-1300 or visit https://departments.arlingtonva.us/dhs/.

Make sure close contacts have basic needs met while they stay home, such as food, medicine, and cleaning supplies. For more information on resources, call the Arlington County Department of Human Services at 703-228-1300 or visit https://departments.arlingtonva.us/dhs/.

 

What Happens if Arlington County Contacts Me?

As a Case

As a Close Contact

Arlington County staff will:

Ask about your symptoms and when they started

Let you know you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 (case)

Ask about the people you were with and your activities.* Staff will ask for your:

  • Close contacts
  • Daily activities (starting two days before your symptoms began or you tested positive)

Ask about your contact with the case, including when and the type of contact

Advise you what to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive, and give you guidance on isolating yourself from others

Advise you what to do, especially if you have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive, and give you guidance on quarantining

Make sure your basic needs are met while you isolate at home, such as food, medicine, and cleaning supplies. For more information on resources, call the Arlington County Department of Human Services at 703-228-1300 or visit https://departments.arlingtonva.us/dhs/.

Make sure your basic needs are met while you quarantine at home, such as food, medicine, and cleaning supplies. For more information on resources, call the Arlington County Department of Human Services at 703-228-1300 or visit https://departments.arlingtonva.us/dhs/.

Arlington County will still call cases and contacts even if they are fully vaccinated. Breakthrough cases can occur and this helps ensure contacts do not have symptoms. If you have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, staff may still contact you because, although rare, cases of reinfection have been reported. 

*The purpose of these questions is to find people who you may have exposed to COVID-19 so they know what to do. Staff will not share any information about you unless you say it is okay.

WATCH: Answer the Call | The importance of contact tracing / Responde la llamada | La importancia del rastreo de contactos

 

What is COVIDWISE?

COVIDWISE is a cell phone app from the Virginia Department of Health.

  • It lets users know when they have been in contact with other users that have COVID-19.
  • Download COVIDWISE from the App Store for iPhone and the Google Play Store for Android.
  • Download and use of the app is 100% voluntary.

How Can I Protect Myself Against Scams?

Only staff from Arlington County will call you about case investigations and contact tracing. They will try calling you until you answer.

They will not ask for:

  • Social Security Number
  • Financial or bank account information
  • Passwords
  • Other personal information unrelated to COVID-19
  • Photographs or videos
  • Money

If you are unsure, hang up and call the Arlington County COVID-19 hotline at 703-228-7999. Ask to talk to someone from the Case Investigation or Contact Tracing Team.  

WATCH: Answer the Call | How to Avoid Contact Tracing Scams / Responde la llamada | Cómo evitar las estafas de rastreo de contactos