Wisconsin contact tracers can now alert close contacts to exposure via texts, emails

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MADISON, Wis. — Contact tracers in Wisconsin can now alert people if they’ve been in close contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19 by sending a text or email.

State health officials said they collect information about close contacts from people who have tested positive for the virus, which is how the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is able to reach out.

Messages from contact tracers with DHS will be sent from 844-939-2782 and say “Health alert: You have been identified as a close contact to COVID-19. Follow this link for more information https://wedss.wisconsin.gov/self-reporting/#/form/abR_R-PgQMC78gbifjr-EQ(link is external). Education for close contacts https://wedss.wisconsin.gov/self-reporting/content/education_for_close_contacts.pdf(link is external).”

Anyone who doesn’t have access to email or a cell phone with texting capabilities will receive a phone call. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will also receive a phone call from a contact tracer.

Gov. Tony Evers said the new messaging system is an important tool for keeping people informed as the Delta variant continues to spread statewide.

“As COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin rise in large part due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, and particularly among people who haven’t been vaccinated, we need to find more ways to get information to folks as quickly as we can,” Evers said. “The ability to text and email information to close contacts will be a valuable tool for our critical contact tracing efforts that remain an important part of our work to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The text and email messaging system is different from DHS’ exposure notification app which uses anonymous signals with other nearby phones to alert people if they’ve been a close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

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