DHEC encourages S.C. residents to respond to legitimate COVID-19 contact tracers, warns against scams

Protecting Yourself from Coronavirus (May 2020)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control are encouraging state residents to respond to legitimate COVID-19 contact tracing calls and emails from public health officials, while staying vigilant against scams.

According to a press release, contact tracing involves case investigations and contact monitoring. DHEC currently has more than 700 people trained to perform case investigations across the state, supplemented by 230 active contact monitors.

DHEC officials said 600 contact monitors have been trained to date and will be deployed as needed.

The release stated that those who test positive for COVID-19 will receive a call from a DHEC contact tracer. That person will:

  • Connect you to medical care and help you find resources and support if needed.
  • Ask about places you have been and the people you have spent time with recently.
  • Make sure the information you provide is kept confidential and not shared with others. They will not ask about your immigration status nor share your information with immigration officials.
  • Call the people you recently were in close contact with and let them know they have been exposed to COVID-19. A “close contact” is someone you have been within 6 feet of for at least 15 minutes.
  • Not share your name and your personal information with any of your contacts.
  • Inform your contacts about what they need to do during the next couple of weeks to take care of themselves and others.

DHEC officials stressed that a contact tracer will never ask for a Social Security number, bank account or credit card number, or immigration status.

If a person wants to verify the identity of a DHEC official, ask them to send an email, which should end with @dhec.sc.gov, the release stated. The individual can also call the DHEC regional epidemiology office to confirm the caller’s name and credentials.

“Contact tracing participation is voluntary and confidential. A legitimate contact tracer will never threaten consequences for not participating or answering questions,” DHEC officials stated.

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