Contact tracing helps prevent spread of COVID-19

During the COVID-19, pandemic individuals have used protective measures such as wearing a facemask or maintaining distances of 6 feet or more. However, people should also ensure they are also being mindful of contact tracing, which is a key mitigating factor in controlling and preventing the spread of COVID-19.


To ensure accurate contact trace investigations, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall has implemented a contact tracing Team. Dr. Kimberly Beck, the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Public Health Emergency officer, is designated as the primary advisor for all contact traces conducted on JBM-HH. Activation of the contact tracing team will be in accordance with the reporting instructions in JBM-HH Temporary Policy No. 4 How and When to Report a Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Illness.


“The following steps will be followed if any member of the JBM-HH community is experiencing flu-like symptoms or signs of a COVID-19 illness,” said Phil Santee, the JBM-HH safety officer. “All information provided to team trace will be treated as personal health information and safeguarded accordingly.”


·       Stay home. 

·       Individuals should notify their supervisor in the same regard as if they were not feeling well from the common cold or the flu. It is strongly recommended that individuals also notify their primary health care provider to receive an evaluation for possible infection of COVID-19.

·       If an individual is diagnosed or tested for COVID-19 by a medical professional, immediately notify/update his or her supervisor and begin following public health recommendations for quarantine or isolation.

·       Supervisors should immediately notify the Andrew Rader U.S Army Health Clinic contact tracing team by calling the COVID-19 testing tent at (703) 967-4312 or by emailing 


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, contact tracing helps protect individuals, their family and community by:


  • Letting people know they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and should monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Helping people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 get tested.
  • Asking people to self-isolate if they have COVID-19 or self-quarantine if they are a close contact.

A close contact is defined by the CDC as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from two days before on set of illness. For asymptomatic clients, two days prior to positive specimen collection or if an individual has provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19, had direct physical contact with a sick person (hugged or kissed them), shared eating or drinking utensils or the individual has sneezed, coughed or the person somehow got respiratory droplets on him or her.


The use of a cloth face covering when social distancing is very import in help to prevent the spread of infection. However, in terms of contact tracing, the use of cloth face coverings or masks does not prevent the individual from meeting the criteria as a close contact of a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 positive individual.


Santee said the following procedures must be met and verified by a health care provider prior to any individual being released from isolation or quarantine in response to a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 illness. Persons who have shown signs and symptoms or have been confirmed with COVID-19 who were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions.


·       At least one day (24 hours) have passed since the individuals had a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications)


·       Have had significant improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath)


·       At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared


·       No other symptoms are currently present.


The quarantine release strategy is for persons with no symptoms who were directed to self-quarantine after a known exposure to COVID-19 but may discontinue self-quarantine under the following conditions.


·       At least 14 days have passed since quarantine period first started and person remains free of symptoms 


·       If symptoms developed during quarantine, an individual must be assessed by a health care provider to determine if he or she should be tested for COVID-19 and moved into isolation as described above


·       If at the end of 14 days an individual has symptoms from an alternate diagnosis other than COVID-19, return to work recommendations will be provided by the HCP in accordance with the alternate diagnosis


Editor’s note: Phil Santee, the JBM-HH safety officer, contributed to this story.

Compiled by Catrina Francis

Pentagram Editor