Metro begins contact tracing to track COVID-19 cases

Posted at 6:16 AM, Apr 16, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Metro Public Health Department is ramping up contact tracing efforts to track the number of COVID-19 cases.

Metro health officials say contact tracing is key to reopening our economy. Since the pandemic began, the department has gone from having four epidemiologists to trace potential exposure to more than 40 on staff now.

Epidemiologists say if you were within six feet of a coronavirus patient for longer than 10 minutes, that’s cause for a 14-day quarantine. They need your help to keep track of the spread.

“We need the public to understand the role they will play in their own health, but also that of their neighbor's. By this, I mean we need you to participate in contact tracing investigations if we call you, or visit your home,” said Lisa Waller, an epidemiologist for the Metro Health Department.

As of Wednesday, they were monitoring 466 people in Davidson County who may have been in contact with someone with coronavirus. Of those, 54% were from a household contact and 34% were near the person in a work or social environment.

The health department is also asking for businesses to be ready to hand over information about contacts if someone at your workplace gets sick.


See all our coronavirus coverage here


What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.