ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that Maryland’s contact tracing operation across all 24 jurisdictions will be “fully operational” next week.
“To support our local health officials, the state has built a robust contact tracing operation and massively expanded Maryland’s disease investigation capacity,” said Governor Hogan. “This will be a partnership across all 24 jurisdictions, and an all-hands-on-deck effort to ensure health officials on the ground can trace and isolate the virus.”
The state says it is now on track to have more than 1,400 case investigators statewide after the governor announced a contract with the National Opinion Research Center to hire and train more investigators to contact trace COVID-19 cases.
Local health officials with state support will now have the capacity to track 1,000 cases and 10,000 contacts on a daily basis, the state said Thursday. After someone tests positive, case investigators will then reach out to those individuals by phone within 24 hours to begin a trace investigation. Based on information collected about the COVID-19 positive individual’s symptoms and contact history, they will call other people who they have had contact with and give guidance about monitoring symptoms and isolating at home.
The Maryland Department of Information Technology and the Maryland Department of Health have also partnered to develop COVID Link, a data management platform to “facilitate the state’s contact tracing partnership with local officials,”
The platform was onboard earlier in May as a pilot program in Baltimore City, rolled out to additional counties, including Prince George’s County and Anne Arundel County, and is set to be fully operational in all 24 jurisdictions next week.
Marylanders getting a call from a contact tracer can expect the caller ID to read “MD COVID,” and the tracer will ask about one’s health, any potential symptoms, and how long those symptoms have lasted. They may also ask about someone’s whereabouts and interactions for a specific period of time. They will then give guidance about self-isolation and monitoring for symptoms, as well as if they have already tested positive for COVID-19.
They will not ask for photographs or videos, passwords or payment. The state says their workforce is trained to make sure all personal information is collected in accordance with regulations and guidelines to protect privacy and personal health information.
During a trace investigation, a person will be told if they may have come into contact with an infected individual, but the infected person’s name is not disclosed and minimal information is conveyed, the state said.