If the Health Department Contacts You
UPDATED May 13, 2022
Health department staff continue contacting residents each day who have tested positive for COVID-19. If you are not contacted, please follow these guidelines if you test positive or have been exposed.
Why are you contacting me?
We may contact you if you test positive for COVID-19 or are connected to a larger outbreak. We may also be in touch if you’ve been in close contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19.
Case investigation takes place when someone tests positive for a "reportable illness," which is an illness that is required to be reported to the health department so that we can follow up on it. COVID-19 is considered a reportable illness. This means that any positive COVID-19 results from tests taken at a healthcare facility, testing site, or lab are required to be reported to the state or local health department. People who have tested positive are considered a "positive case." Our staff then contact the positive cases to find out about their illness, and see if they need any help. Part of case investigation is asking questions about people who may have been exposed while the case was contagious. The Health Department is prioritizing older unvaccinated individuals, children in childcare and school settings, and those in long term care or who have been hospitalized when doing case investigation.
Contact tracing is one way to help prevent further spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing can help contain outbreaks by quickly alerting people who may have had a high-risk exposure, so they don’t spread the virus to others. At this point in the pandemic, widespread contact tracing is no longer taking place.
Close contacts are individuals who had face-to-face contact with an infected person, within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes. There may be exceptions to this criteria in certain cases where the risk of transmission is higher (e.g. contact during high impact sports). Having physical contact with an infected person may also categorize a close contact (e.g. sharing eating or drinking utensils, having direct physical contact by hugging/kissing, or having had an infected person sneeze/cough/get respiratory droplets on someone). These close contacts are at higher risk of being infected, since they are known to have been around a contagious person.
How did you get my contact information?
We’re not spying on you or tracking your cell phone data, we promise! Health care providers, testing sites, and schools are required to report positive COVID-19 cases to the health department. If you have tested positive, we will call you from the information you provided to the testing location.
The Michigan Department of Corrections or other local health departments may also provide us with your contact information if you live in Washtenaw County.
How will you contact me?
We may call, text, and/or email you.
If we call you, please answer the phone or call us back as soon as you can. The call may come from different numbers, depending on which staff member is calling. You could also get a call from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, 866-806-3447 or MI COVID HELP.
We have also partnered with the state of Michigan to offer you the opportunity to answer the same questions we would ask during a phone call in an electronic health form instead. If you have tested positive on a COVID-19 test taken at a healthcare facility, testing site, or lab, you may receive a text message with a link asking you to fill out a health form. These text message will come from 877-447-2148 OR 48355, and email messages will come from [email protected]. These text messages and emails are legitimate. They will have a link to a HIPAA compliant health form. All answers you enter in the form will only be shared with the state and local health department.
What questions will I be asked?
We want to make sure you have all the resources you need to isolate (if you’re sick) or quarantine (if you’ve been exposed but are not yet sick). We may ask questions about things like:
- How you’re feeling.
- The phone numbers of your close contacts who may have been exposed and your employer if you’re working outside the home.
- If anyone else lives with you, we’ll provide information on how you can keep your distance from them and keep them safe.
- We’ll also ask for basic information like your birthdate, address (to make sure you’re in Washtenaw County), and email address so we can send you follow-up information.
What questions will the Health Department NEVER ask?
We will never ask you about your:
- Immigration status
- Bank account
- Credit card
- Social security information
How can I make sure the call/text/email I receive is legitimate?
If you’re concerned you’re being scammed, you can call us at 734-544-6700 or send us an email at [email protected] and we can confirm if the person contacting you is legitimate or not.
Will I get in trouble?
We’re contacting you to make sure you, your family, and your community stay safe. State law (PA 238 of 2020 and PA 339 of 2020) states that an employer can’t fire, discipline, or retaliate against an employee for staying home if they are sick or their close contact is sick. Additionally, employers must protect the confidentiality of their employees. Legally, they cannot identify an employee who has COVID-19 by name.
What if I don’t speak English?
All Health Department staff have access to phone interpreters. We have some staff who speak other languages.