COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — Officials at the state and federal levels have been stressing the importance of contact tracing in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, including Howard County’s health officer.

Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman said while it can feel intrusive, the information people share is confidential. When a person gets a call from their local health department, the information gathered is only shared with the department to help combat COVID-19.

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In actuality, contact tracing is one of these old-fashioned methods that public health (officials) have been using for decades to investigate disease and help persons who have (an) infectious disease, prevent transmission to others, and find out about how they got the disease in the first place,” she said.

With contact tracing, a staff member at a local health department will get a report from the state or a health care provider. The contact tracer will then reach out to anyone who has come into recent contact with a positive COVID-19 patient.

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Gov. Larry Hogan has included more vigorous contact tracing as one of the necessary steps the state needs before it begins to reopen.”

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We have quadrupled our capability to do contact tracing by building a robust force of 1000 contact tracers and launching a state-of-the-art contact tracing link called COVID Link,” Hogan said.

Baltimore residents Joan Esparta and Brittani Wynn said they think contact tracing is a good idea to slow the virus.

“It alerts a lot more people,” Esparta said.

“It would be important to see where is the source is coming from or where it’s being spread, ideally to stop it,” Wynn said.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Rachel Menitoff