DHS: Contact tracers can now send texts, emails to notify exposures to COVID-19

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recently announced that people who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 can be sent a text or email notifying them of their exposure.

Officials say this is another way to share important information with close contacts in a timely manner. People who test positive for COVID-19 will continue to receive a phone call from a contact tracer.

“As COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin rise in large part due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, and particularly among people who haven’t been vaccinated, we need to find more ways to get information to folks as quickly as we can,” said Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. “The ability to text and email information to close contacts will be a valuable tool for our critical contact tracing efforts that remain an important part of our work to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

According to a news release, when contact tracers call people who have tested positive for COVID-19, they collect information about their close contacts. The text will be sent from 844-939-2782 and the message will read in part, "Health alert: You have been identified as a close contact to COVID-19" People without access to a cell phone with texting capability or to email may still receive a phone call.

The DHS COVID-19 Contact Tracing Team and many of Wisconsin’s local and tribal health department staffers will be using text and email to notify close contacts. Officials say this is different from the Wisconsin Exposure Notification app, which exchanges anonymous signals with other phones that are near it for at least 15 minutes and allows people who test positive to send an alert to other nearby phones. 

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