(OpEd by Mark Carter, an executive policy advisor with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, has most recently served as chief executive officer at Passport Health Plan. For more information about contact tracing and the coronavirus, visit kycovid19.ky.gov.)
Don’t Stall. Answer the Call.
The text alert arrived with a call to action. I needed to verify with my data breach monitoring company that a cable company had my permission to check my financial background, allowing me to consider them as a streaming entertainment provider. Like many Kentuckians who have been Healthy at Home and watching TV, I was happy to provide the verification.
This particular text reminded me of another alert I received last year from my bank. I received a call on a Saturday afternoon, asking if I’d authorized the purchase of an airline ticket in Phoenix. This time, the answer was no, my card was cancelled and the financial institution overnighted a new card to me.
My experience shows that consumer protection of this type as a very good thing. Monitoring banking and other electronic activity helps build confidence that I won’t fall victim to bad actors, identity theft or illegal funds transfer.
During this pandemic, we’ve paid close attention to what other nations, states and leaders are doing – or not doing – and with what results. So, when the White House issued guidance for reopening the U.S. economy, and referenced confidential contact tracing as a critical step to precede a full reopening of business in the U.S., and every state’s governor embraced this, my confidence in Kentucky being able to reopen safely was significantly increased.
I recently joined the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to lead the COVID-19 contact tracing efforts on behalf of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. My role boils down to helping my fellow Kentuckians stay safe and healthy personally and helping their family, friends, and neighbors do the same. In short, we are charged with stopping the spread of diseases like this novel coronavirus.
Governor Andy Beshear has announced that contact tracing is in the process of being rolled out. Public health workers have been added, with hundreds of others to be hired, to reach out to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 to assess their situation and to understand and document any recent in-person contacts.
Just as credit monitoring and other consumer protection programs do.
If someone tests positive for the coronavirus, their recent contacts are notified and instructions are provided to connect them with local resources.
Like my bank did when it temporarily suspended my credit card.
By following contact tracing instructions, contacts can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and can help save the lives of family members, close friends, neighbors and fellow Kentuckians.
As is the case for credit, banking and other monitoring, contact tracing works the same way.
If you receive a phone call from a contact tracer, there are four things you can do.
First, answer the call.
Second, report information requested by the contact tracer as clearly and as completely as possible.
Third, cooperate fully with public health workers.
And fourth, follow any instructions that you are provided.
Contact tracing, along with a robust testing program, is the key to an open economy and stopping the economic and public health disaster that is COVID-19. Please, cooperate if you are contacted by public health, and consider communicating the importance of contact tracing to family and friends. Kentucky is ready to get back to work and to reimagining a new economy for the commonwealth.