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Contact tracing

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing helps isolate positive cases of COVID-19 and identifies close contacts of those who have tested positive in order to stop the chain of transmission. In the case of COVID-19, close contacts are defined as someone who has been within six feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes.  In our experience so far, roommates and household contacts are at particularly high risk for acquiring infection.

A robust system of contact tracing is key to keeping students, faculty and staff safe on campus. Contact tracing, in addition to symptomatic and mitigation testing, is part of IU's strategy for keeping all of IU's campuses as safe as possible. The success of contact tracing also relies on those in the community changing their behavior to help mitigate the spread of the disease.

How does it work?

Contact tracing works by quickly informing the infected person of their positive test result, quickly providing isolation instructions to the infected individual, and supporting the individual to isolate effectively.  In addition, contact tracing rapidly identifies and informs the close contacts of the person who tested positive so they can quarantine and monitor for any symptoms.

If you test positive for COVID-19 or are identified as a close contact, you will first receive an email from IU's team of contact tracers letting you know that we'll be attempting to reach you to discuss an important health matter. The email will also request that you complete a short online form asking for your contact info, if you have been tested for COVID-19, or if you are experiencing any symptoms. Submitting this form in advance will help to shorten the phone interview you'll have with a contact tracer.

If you test positive, during the phone interview with the contact tracer, you may be asked to look through your calendar, texts and emails to remember anyone who you may have had close contact with during the infectious period. During the interview, contact tracers will ask about any symptoms as well as your living environment to determine the best options for quarantine or isolation.

Contact tracers will not disclose to the public or to close contacts who may have exposed a person to COVID-19. This information is strictly used for contact tracing purposes and confidential and protected by federal health privacy laws.

What if I'm contacted by a contact tracer?

If you've tested positive or been identified as a close contact, you can expect to hear from one of IU's contact tracers. To help the contact tracing team, you can:

  • Promptly respond to all calls, emails or text messages from the contact tracer.
  • Complete the online form in the email you receive
  • Follow the contact tracer's recommendation on quarantine or isolation

What contact tracers will not ask you

Contact tracers will not ask you for:

  • Your social security number.
  • Money or payment of any type.
  • Photographs or videos of any type.
  • Passwords or any other type of account information.
  • Your immigration status.

Learn more about what legitimate contact tracers will not ask and how to report fake contact tracers.