Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Dept. of Public health, along with Partners in Health, has created the COVID-19 Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC). This program focuses on reaching out to the contacts of confirmed positive COVID-19 patients to help others who may have been exposed to the virus. When the MA COVID Team calls, you can do your part by answering the phone and providing helpful information that will help flatten and reduce the curve in Massachusetts.  Phone calls will use the prefix 833 and 857 and your phone will show the call is from “MA COVID Team.”  Until now, our Hamilton Public health Nurse has been the only person doing this contact work;  she will continue but the CTC will be helping her.  Please respond to her call if you see on your phone a 978-290 prefix.  Otherwise, be on the alert for spam callers who may try to take advantage of you.

First and foremost, if you test positive, we make sure that you are getting the medical attention you need and support through isolation. Once that is taken care of, we move onto contact tracing. Contact tracing is a proven, effective weapon in the medical arsenal to stop the spread of disease. It has been used effectively in Taiwan and South Korea for COVID-19 and in the U.S. for past epidemics.

Our Hamilton Public Health Nurse or the CTC team will be reaching out via phone and text to confirmed positive COVID-19 patients and anyone they’ve been in contact with to trace and contain the onward spread of the virus by arranging testing, as well as medical and isolation support. We will not release your name to anyone. Phone calls from the CTC will use the prefix 833 and 857 and your phone will show the call is from “MA COVID Team” and those from our Public Health Nurse will show a 978-290 prefix.  Calls will be made daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. All you have to do is answer the call. It’s that easy.

When we call, we will ask you for a list of all of the people you were within six feet of during the two days before you had symptoms. If you don’t have symptoms, we’ll ask about your activity during the two days before your diagnosis. We will also ask for the phone numbers of anyone you tell us about, so they can be called and told about their exposure.   We will encourage you to let your contacts know about your illness, but we will not be sharing your information. We’ll call your contacts and let them know they have been exposed so they can get tested, but not tell them your name.

If you are staying at home during the isolation period, the case investigator will also discuss any needs you may have and may connect you with a care resource coordinator who will help you get the support you need. Throughout your illness, a case investigator or the Hamilton Board of Health will check in on you regularly to monitor your symptoms and needs.

Although social distancing has been proven effective in slowing the spread of the virus, we must do more and that’s where you can help. With contact tracing in place, we can track the spread and reduce additional exposure to others by encouraging testing, supporting isolation/quarantine and social distancing. Many people who have COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms and don’t realize that they may be spreading the virus. So if you get a call, all you have to do is pick up. We are all in this together; by sharing information and listening to the direction of our Public Health Nurse or the CTC, we can help to not just flatten the curve in Massachusetts, but bend it downward to reduce the number of cases and ultimately, save lives.