Begin Main Content Area

Contact Tracing​

Case Investigations and Contact Tracing

If you test positive, a public health staff member will try to call you within 24 to 48 hours of receiving the test result. They will conduct a case investigation or share a Connect & Protect Form and collect the people and places you come in contact with while you were infectious. While you isolate for a minimum of ten days, contact tracers will reach out to your close contacts to inform them that they were exposed, educate them on what to do and provide supports and testing information as necessary for the situation. Contact tracers will not use your name when reaching out to your close contacts. Your information will stay confidential.

What are Case Investigations?

A case investigation is the identification and investigation of patients who are classified as being a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19. This includes learning when the case was infectious and identifying the people and places they were around while infectious

What is the Connect & Protect Form?

A Connect & Protect Form is a digital case investigation for Pennsylvanians 19 through 64 years old and live in a county or municipal area without its own health department. This form collects information from someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19 to help gather where the individual went and who the individual came in close contact of while infectious.  

The purpose of this process is to ensure anyone who had close contact is notified that they were exposed to COVID-19 without revealing the identify of who exposed them. Contact tracers will be able to follow up with those close contacts to inform them and monitor them in case they develop symptoms to ensure they have supports available and in place to best support them.  

By connecting with the Department of Health, you are protecting your loved ones, friends and neighbors from the spread of COVID-19.  

What is Contact Tracing?

Contact tracing is the process of identifying, notifying, and monitoring anyone who came in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 while they were infectious (2 days before onset of symptoms until the end of the person's isolation period). Contact tracing is a key strategy for preventing the further spread of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. Close contacts of a case are considered to have been exposed to COVID-19, and may go on to develop the disease. Identifying and quarantining close contacts limits their ability to spread disease should they become infectious and helps to limit community spread.

What is the Process for Case Investigations and Contact Tracing?

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19:

  • A public health professional may reach out to you within 24 to 48 hours.
    • If you are younger than 19 and older than 64, that professional will interview you to identify everyone you had close contact during the time you were infectious.
    • If you are between the ages of 19 and 64 years old, a contact tracer will call you and gather your email address in order to share a Connect & Protect Form with you to identify everyone with whom you had close contact during the time you were infectious.
    • If you do not receive a call, you can call the Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (or 1-877-724-3258) to start your case investigation.
  • If you have the COVID Alert PA app, the public health professional will give you a six-digit code or Random ID to upload in order to alert other app users who had close contact with you through an anonymous exposure notification alert. This is a quick way for those close contacts to be notified – whether you know them or they were someone whom you didn't know but your phone came in contact with their phone through Bluetooth capabilities.
  • The public health professional will share next steps for isolation and quarantine guidance.

If you are a close contact of someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19, you will receive a call from a contact tracer:

  • Notifying you of your potential exposure;
  • Referring you for testing;
  • Monitoring you for signs and symptoms of COVID-19; and
  • Connecting you with services they might need during the self-quarantine period.

All communication related to contact tracing is private and confidential.

To prevent the further spread of disease, COVID-19 contacts are encouraged to stay home and maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others until 10 days after their last exposure to a person with COVID-19. Contacts should monitor themselves by checking their temperature twice daily and watching for symptoms of COVID-19.

Learn more about the contact tracing process or read the contact tracing frequently asked questions.

Questions? Call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258)

Updated 12/17/2020