Contact Tracing Explained

Teton County Health Department has employed a group of contact investigators and tracers to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. 

What is contact tracing? 

Contact tracing is the process of communicating with people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to establish all of their recent contacts and places they’ve been. This process helps stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community by identifying everyone who may be a close contact and quickly putting them into isolation or quarantine. 

When would I receive a call from a contact tracer?

If you test positive for COVID-19, you can expect a call from a contact tracer within 24 hours of that test result. If you are a direct contact of a positive case, you can expect a call within 48-72 hours to be warned of your exposure and to discuss what you should/should not do. 

How do I know if I am a direct contact of a confirmed positive case? 

A direct contact is essentially someone who was within 6-feet of a known positive case for longer than ten minutes. The Health Department, based on information given to us by the diagnosed positive case, will determine if someone is a direct contact. It is not always a simple, clear-cut answer. If you are sure that you are a direct contact of a known positive case, and you don’t hear from us within 72 hours of their positive test result, call us at 307-733-6401. If you are unsure if you are a direct contact, and you don’t hear from us - that means you are likely NOT a direct contact. Contacts of contacts should not expect a call from a contact tracer. If you are concerned about your exposure, but not a direct contact, limit your exposure to others, stay home as much as possible, and monitor your symptoms. If, at any time, you develop even the slightest of symptoms, call your healthcare provider, Emerg-a-care, or St. John’s Health to get tested. 

What kinds of questions will a contact tracer ask me?

The most important question that a contact tracer will ask you is: since 48 hours before you felt any symptoms (if you ever felt symptoms), who have you been around, and for how long? A reasonable answer would be that you’ve only been within six feet of about 3-5 people for longer than ten minutes. These people would likely include your housemates, family, significant other, or perhaps a few close friends if you live alone. Ask yourself, right now, who have you been around for longer than ten minutes and closer than ten feet or so for the past two weeks? Can you remember who those people were, and their phone numbers? If it’s around 3-5 people, you’re doing a great job. If you went to a dinner party of 20 people, or a 4th of July party with 30 people, then that is approaching on an unreasonable and unsafe number. Did you go to a wedding with 50 people? Numbers such as those can cripple the contact tracing system. 

How can I help a contact tracer do their job, and keep our community safe?

Limit your exposure to others. Download the PathCheck app (you can read more about the contact tracing app here). Cooperate with contact tracers - we know it’s not fun news to be told you have to stay home and quarantine for two weeks - but they are just doing their job: keeping our community safe. We have plenty of resources for food and prescription drug delivery if you are asked to quarantine or isolate and find yourself without many groceries in your fridge!


Read more information from the CDC about Contract Tracing below: