The Howard County Health Department is in the process of hiring and onboarding contact tracers to add to its team of current and volunteer investigators. As the contact tracing operation expands, residents who are contacted by the Health Department investigators should answer phone calls and respond to questions as fully as possible.

“Our Health Department is working around the clock to increase our contact tracing operation, but we need community support and cooperation to track and stop the spread of COVID-19,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “This effort started with just two staff members before the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to ramp up to more than 20 times that amount over the coming weeks to manage the work ahead. Please be sure to be forthcoming with vital information and follow Health Department guidelines.”

To protect patient privacy, contacts are never told the identity of the patient who may have exposed them. All information is kept confidential. Contacts are provided with key information and support to understand their risk, monitor their symptoms and health, and to prevent the spread of the infection in their households, workplaces and community. Contact tracing is an essential component, along with testing, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Howard County drive-thru testing site has conducted 1,234 tests to date and is anticipating testing another 500 individuals this week. There are appointments available for those that meet the testing recommendations. People should contact their healthcare provider if they believe they should be tested. Testing recommendations include:

Persons with symptoms of potential COVID-19 infection, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, and/or sore throat.

Persons without symptoms who are prioritized by health departments or clinicians, for any reason (including but not limited to: public health monitoring, sentinel surveillance, or screening of other asymptomatic individuals according to state and local plan).