Interim COVID-19 Contact Tracing Communications Toolkit for Health Departments

Updated June 17, 2020

This page will be updated as new resources become available.

Main Message

We all need to work together with health departments to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing and self-quarantining of people with COVID-19 and close contacts are critical to help slow transmission of COVID-19 in our communities.

The messages in this toolkit use COVID-19, but you may want to use “coronavirus” instead of COVID-19 if that’s the term most often used in your community.

Health Marketing Messaging Examples

Consider developing promotional messages to incorporate in communications to your community. Examples are included below.

  • Answer the call to slow the spread.*
  • Now that we’ve worked together to flatten the curve, it’s time to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Cancel COVID.
  • Choose to be part of the solution: slow the spread.

* Credit: Massachusetts Community Tracing Collaborative.external icon

Talking Points

  • General Messages
    • We all need to work together with health department staff to slow the spread of COVID-19.
      • Now that we’ve worked together to flatten the curve, it’s time to slow the spread of COVID-19.
      • Be part of the solution to slow the spread.
      • Help your health department slow transmission in your community.
    • Your actions make all of us safer. Public health workers are here to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Messages for people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, an employee (case investigator) from the health department might call you to check-in on your health, discuss who you’ve been in contact with and, and ask you to stay at home to self-isolate.
      • Unless you give permission, your name will not be revealed to those you came in contact with, even if they ask.
      • The health department will ask you to stay at home and self-isolate.
        • Self-isolation means staying at home in a specific room away from other people and pets, and using a separate bathroom, if possible.
        • Self-isolation is critical to protecting those who you live with as well as your community.
        • Self-isolation helps slow the spread of COVID-19 and can help keep your friends and neighbors healthy.
        • If you need support or assistance while self-isolating, then your health department or community organizations may be able to provide assistance.
      • Seek medical care if symptoms become severe. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.
  • Messages for Close Contacts of someone with COVID-19
    • If you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, an employee from the health department (contact tracer) might call to inform you that you’ve been exposed. They will ask you to stay at home and self-quarantine.
      • Close contact means you were within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes.
      • You should stay at home and self-quarantine for 14 days, starting from the most recent day that you were possibly exposed to COVID-19. The contact tracer will inform you of the dates of your self-quarantine.
        • Self-quarantine means staying home, monitoring yourself, and maintaining social distancing (at least 6 feet from others at all times). You should remain in a specific room separate from other non-exposed people and pets in your home, and use a separate bathroom, if possible.
        • If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a cloth face covering.  This will help protect the people around you.
        • If you need support or assistance with self-quarantine, then your health department or community organizations may be able to provide assistance.
        • Self-quarantine helps slow the spread of COVID-19 and can help keep your friends and neighbors healthy.
      • You should monitor yourself for any symptoms of COVID-19 and notify your health department if you develop symptoms. Seek medical care if symptoms become severe. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.
  • Key Actions
    • Pick up the phone when your health department calls.
    • Follow health department guidance.
    • Notify your healthcare provider if you become ill.
    • Call your healthcare provider if you start to feel ill and you have not been tested for COVID-19.
    • If you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, you should stay at home and self-quarantine for 14 days, starting from the most recent day that you were possibly exposed to COVID-19. Monitor yourself, and maintain social distancing (at least 6 feet) from others at all times.
    • Notify those who you had close contact with recently if you become ill.
    • Know what symptoms mean you need to go to the hospital right away.
    • Seek medical care if symptoms become severe. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.
  • The bottom line: Making a choice to help your health department in the fight against COVID-19 keeps you, your family, and your community safe.
  • Messages around stigma
    • People can fight stigma by providing social support in situations where you notice this is occurring.
    • Stigma affects the emotional or mental health of stigmatized groups and the communities they live in.
    • Stopping stigma is important to making communities and community members resilient. See resources on mental health and coping during COVID-19.
    • Everyone can help stop stigma related to COVID-19 by knowing the facts and sharing them with others in your community.

Sample Public Service Announcements

15 second

The [insert health department name] is working hard to slow the spread of COVID-19. If you have been exposed, we will call you and ask you to self-quarantine at home based on when you were exposed. Help us slow transmission and answer the call to slow the spread.

30 second

The [insert health department name] is working hard to slow the spread of COVID-19. If you have been exposed to COVID-19, we will call you to notify you. You should self-quarantine at home and follow our instructions. Making a choice to help us in the fight against COVID-19 keeps you, your family, and your community safe. Help us slow transmission and answer the call to slow the spread. For more information, visit [insert URL]. This is a message from the [insert health department name].

Additional COVID-19 Public Service Announcements

Sample Graphics

Sample Social Media Posts

Twitter

  • We can work together to help slow the spread of #COVID19. You can do your part by answering your phone if the health department calls and self-quarantining if ill or exposed. Learn more: [insert link].
  • You can help your health department in the fight against #COVID19 to help keep you, your family, and your community safe. Answer the call to slow the spread.
  • If you have been in close contact with someone with #COVID19, someone from [insert health department name] might call you to inform you that you’ve been exposed and ask you to stay at home and self-quarantine. Answer the call to slow the spread.
  • If a contact tracer contacts you and says you’ve been exposed to #COVID19, plan to self-quarantine for 14 days. Stay home, remain in a room separate from other non-exposed people and pets in your home, and use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Contact tracing is essential to slowing the spread of #COVID19. Any information collected by public health workers is confidential. Learn more about how contact tracers will work with you to help slow the spread of COVID-19 [insert link].
  • Contact tracing is essential to slowing the spread of #COVID19. If you have COVID-19, public health workers won’t reveal your identity to your close contacts, even if they ask. Help us slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • If you are sick with #COVID19, someone from [insert health department name] might contact you to check on your health, discuss who you’ve been in contact with and ask you to stay at home to self-isolate. Answer the call to slow the spread.

Facebook

  • We can work together to help slow the spread of COVID-19. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, we will call you and ask you to self-quarantine at home for 14 days from the day that you were exposed. Do you part to keep your family and your community safe: answer the call to slow the spread.
  • If you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, someone from [insert health department name] might call you to inform you that you’ve been exposed and ask you to stay at home and self-quarantine. Staying at home helps keep you, your family, and your community safe. Choose to be part of the solution and help us slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • If you are sick with COVID-19, someone from [insert health department name] might call you to check on your health, discuss who you’ve been in contact with and ask you to stay at home to self-isolate. This information is collected for health purposes only and will not be shared with any other agencies, like law enforcement or immigration. Your name will not be revealed to those you came in contact with, unless you give permission. Do your part to keep your family and your community safe from COVID-19: answer the call to slow the spread.
  • If you are sick with COVID-19, plan to self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolation means staying at home in a room away from other people and pets, and using a separate bathroom, if possible. Self-isolation is critical to protecting those who you live with, as well as your community. If you need support or assistance while self-isolating, we may be able to assist. Choose to be part of the solution and help us slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • If you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, an employee from [insert health department name] might call you to inform you that you’ve been exposed and ask you to stay at home and self-quarantine. Choose to be part of the solution and help us slow the spread of COVID-19

Questions & Answers

What information will you share with people I’ve had close contact with?

We will only notify your close contacts that they might have been exposed to COVID-19. Your name will not be revealed to those you came in contact with, unless you give permission.

I feel fine. Why should I stay at home?

People with COVID-19 can still spread the virus even if they don’t have any symptoms. If you came in close contact with someone who had COVID-19, it is critical that you stay home for 14 days from the last day that you were in close contact with that person. Staying home and distancing (at least 6 feet) from others at all times helps your health department in the fight against COVID-19 keeps you, your family, and your community safe.

What do I do if I feel sick?

If you become ill, notify your family and friends who you had close contact with recently. Notify anyone who you were within 6 feet of for 15 minutes or more in the two days before you first developed COVID-19 symptoms. Seek emergency care if you have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.

Additional Considerations

In order to ensure community engagement and trust, health departments should be prepared to provide answers to some of the following questions based on jurisdiction-specific policies and resources. Please tailor these messages as appropriate.

  • How can I be sure that my health information is secure?
  • How will my health information be used?
  • How long will my health information be stored and protected?
  • Will the health department share information with others?
  • How do I know that the person calling is from the health department?
  • What options or opportunities are there for quarantine and isolation for those who are unable to self-isolate at home?
  • If I need help with self-isolating and self-quarantining, what services are offered?
  • What financial assistance is available for people who are asked to stay home but can’t telework or don’t have sick leave?

Additional Resources

Related Links

Content describing non-CDC tools on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to indicate endorsement, actual or implied, of the tools. Additionally, information on this site is provided “as is,” for users to evaluate and make their own determination as to their effectiveness.

Federal Trade Commission: COVID-19 contact tracing text message scamsexternal icon

Resolve to Save Lives: COVID-19 Contact Tracing Playbook Communications Webpageexternal icon

Coronavirus Response Campaignexternal icon