Contact Tracing

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Contact tracing is a tool public health uses to stop the spread of diseases. By answering the phone and talking to us when a public health worker calls you, you are helping stop the spread of COVID-19. Due to the large number of cases in our community, Public Health is unable to complete contact tracing for most cases. If you test positive, tell your close contacts right away.


Handbook: COVID-19, After You Get Tested

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Multnomah, Clackamas, Columbia and Washington counties put together this comprehensive guide to help people who have been tested for COVID-19. The document includes information on isolation and quarantine, what you can and can't do, how to tell close contacts you tested positive, telling your employer, ways to manage respiratory symptoms at home, how to stop the spread of germs, using a face covering properly and more.

COVID-19: Después de la prueba 

09/15/2021 UPDATED QUARANTINE GUIDANCE: Public Health updated the guide with this shorter two-page summary

  • If you've been exposed to COVID-19 seek testing, whether or not you've been vaccinated.  
  • If you have symptoms, seek testing immediately. If you don't have symtpoms, wait at least 3 days after your COVID-19 exposure.
  • While awaiting test results, assume you are positive, stay home and away from other people. If you need to be within 6 feet of someone else, wear your mask even when you are at home.  
  • Make a list of your close contacts. Close contacts are people you've spent 15 or more minutes with and have been within 6 feet, with or without a mask.
  • If you test positive isolate at home for 10 days and notify your close contacts right away.
  • If you test negative and are fully vaccinated you do not need to quarantine, but monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days. If you develop symptoms, get another test.
  • If you test negative and are not fully vaccinated you must quarantine at home for at least 10 days, 14 days is safest.                                                                        

How will I know it's really Public Health calling me?

Our contact tracing staff have been issued cell phones by the county. Sometimes the caller ID will say "Washington County," but not all carriers support this. If you do not answer, we will leave a message (with no private details) and ask you to call us back. If you are unsure about a call you received, you can call us at 503-846-8123 to make sure it was a legitimate call.

What questions do contact investigators ask?

  • We ask where you have been and who you have had close contact with in the last few weeks. A close contact is someone you were within six feet of for at least 15 minutes in a 24-hour period, with or without face coverings.
  • We ask about your health, housing situation and employment. 
  • We ask you if you have what you need to stay safe and recover. We can help you come up with a plan to stay home safely.
  • We do not ask for social security numbers or credit cards. We do not ask about immigration status. We do not share your identity with the federal government.

What if I need help to be able to stay home?

Tell the contact investigator who calls you that you need help. Washington County and our community-based partner organizations may be able to help with rent, groceries, utilities and other essential expenses if you need to stay home from work.

What else do I need to know?

The virus spreads easily among household members if precautions are not taken. Our Protect Your Household page includes a video to help you prevent household spread, advice for monitoring symptoms, how to take care of an ill person, and more.

What to do if you test positive for COVID-19