COVID-19 Contact Tracing
Contact tracing is the process of identifying the contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19. These contacts are at higher risk of becoming infected with the virus, and infecting others.
Health Department staff will work with positive cases to identify people with whom they have been in close contact.
People are at highest risk of catching the virus if they are a close contact of a person with COVID-19. Based on current research, you are a close contact if:
- You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period while the person was infectious (2 days before illness onset or testing)
- You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
- You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
- You shared eating or drinking utensils
- They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you
In a health care setting, close contact can include:
- caring for a patient with COVID-19 without adequate personal protective equipment according to CDC health care provider guidance
- having direct contact with a lab specimen from someone who is positive for COVID-19 in a way that is not consistent with CDC specimen-handling guidelines
People who are close contacts of cases will be contacted and given information and support to understand their risk, how to monitor themselves for symptoms, and what they need to do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others.
If you have been contacted by Carroll County Health Department’s COVID-19 contact tracing team, you may be asked to:
Quarantine – stay in place, either at home or elsewhere, for at least 14 days* because you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
*The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) have developed new guidance for two shorter quarantine options for people without symptoms. Based on these recommendations, the Health Department may approve the following options for quarantine to end:
- After day 7 after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later)
- After day 10 without testing
Please note: The days of quarantine are determined by the Health Department’s contact tracing team.
When ending quarantine early, people must:
- Watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure.
- If they have symptoms, immediately isolate themselves and contact the Health Department or their healthcare provider.
- Wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from others, wash their hands often, avoid crowds, and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not have to quarantine or get tested again as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
- People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.
- People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against the disease and show no symptoms.
The Health Department makes the final decision on how long quarantine should last in Carroll County, based on local conditions.
For more information on the options to reduce quarantine, including increased risk of COVID-19 spread, visit Options to Reduce Quarantine (CDC).
Isolate – stay in place, either at home or elsewhere, for at least 10 days because you have tested positive or have symptoms of COVID-19
The following documents and links provide additional instructions:
Learn more about contact tracing in Maryland on the COVID Link site.
What to Do if You are Sick – CDC guidance
How to Care for Someone Sick at Home with COVID-19 – CDC guidance
Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home – CDC guidance
Stress and Coping – CDC guidance
Contact Tracing – CDC