DOH Launches Portal to Facilitate COVID-19 Contact Tracing

May 11, 2020, 7:50 AM HST · Updated May 11, 7:50 AM
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Contact tracing and contact monitoring involve some of the most critical daily tasks the Hawaii Department of Health executes. It refers to the methods used by DOH staff to follow up with and monitor the health of individuals in the community who have had close contact with a person identified as having COVID-19.

Until recently, DOH staff accomplished this element of contact tracing and contact monitoring largely through multiple phone calls daily to those at risk for infection. However, state officials report that a new, secure portal recently implemented by the DOH is improving the efficiency of data collection by allowing individuals being monitored to input and upload their health status information on their own.

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A brief online survey allows individuals to submit their responses directly and securely to the DOH daily. The survey asks if they’ve developed a fever, cough, shortness of breath or other symptoms that may indicate signs of COVID-19.

According to the Department of Health, all information collected is encrypted to protect the privacy of those being monitored via a unique link that expires after 24 hours. If necessary, DOH staff follows up with those logging into the portal. Individuals who do not have internet access or opt out of the surveys will continue to be monitored by phone daily by DOH staff.

“Having a well-developed contact tracing and monitoring system with timely investigations, especially in underserved areas, is one of the criteria for reopening our state,” said DOH Director Bruce Anderson. “The efficiency of this new system will increase our capacity to identify new cases and their contacts, and may allow us to monitor up to five times more new contacts than we could previously. This enhances our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

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