MDH Launches Campaign to Promote Contact Tracing Awareness

Maryland Department of Health kicks off statewide campaign to educate residents about the importance of contact tracing.

CoronaVirusThe Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today will begin rolling out a new statewide campaign to educate Marylanders about the importance of contact tracing and how it is a vital tool in the fight against the spread of coronavirus.

Contact tracing, a core disease control measure employed by public health personnel for decades, is a key strategy for preventing the further spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19.

“Our new campaign will help Marylanders understand the contact tracing program and its role in reducing the spread of this disease,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “While we have taken a series of bold and aggressive actions to flatten the curve, contact tracing is one of the four building blocks needed to contain the virus and allow us to fully reopen the state.”

MDH’s contact tracing program works like this: when an individual tests positive, case investigators reach out to that person by phone within 24 hours. Based on information collected about the COVID-19 positive individual’s symptoms and contact history, case investigators will call other people with whom the individual has had close contact and provide necessary guidance about monitoring symptoms and isolating at home.

The campaign will help support the newly developed “COVID Link,” a new data management platform that will facilitate MDH’s contact tracing partnership with local health officials.

According to a press release:

The campaign’s slogan, “Respond. Connect. Recover,” signifies that all Marylanders have an important part to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 2,400 people in the state. The outreach program will include a series of educational videos, public service announcements, social media posts, website content, informational fact sheets and frequently asked questions, and other outreach materials.

“Contact tracing – along with widespread testing, ample supplies of PPE and hospital preparedness – is how we will keep Maryland moving toward a safer and healthier future,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “Already, Maryland residents are coming to understand why it is important to work with their local health departments, which are successfully reaching out to people who have been exposed to help contain the disease.”

Contact tracing is not a new strategy in the fight against infectious disease and has been effectively employed during other health emergencies, such as the H1N1 pandemic in America and Ebola outbreaks in Africa.

MDH has quickly expanded its team of contact tracers and now has 1,400 investigators across the state’s 24 jurisdictions. Starting this week, the program will have the capacity to track 1,000 cases and up to 10,000 contacts daily. On April 22, Governor Hogan announced a contract with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), the nation’s oldest and largest university-based research firm, to hire and train contact investigators.

Visit the MDH website for more information.