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COVID-19: Contact Tracing

Once someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is essential that the people they had close contact with separate themselves from others and quarantine to help prevent further spread of the virus. DHS and local and tribal health departments have built a network of contact tracers to interview people with a confirmed case of COVID-19. This network has been successful in helping Wisconsinites follow isolation and quarantine guidance.

How contact tracing works

  • If someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, that person's name is provided to the local or tribal health department. 
  • A contact tracer from the health department may contact the person with COVID-19 and ask them to identify anyone who was exposed
  • A contact tracer may then contact the people who were exposed. 

What to expect when you get a call, text, or email from a contact tracer

All contact tracing team members have received training in and demonstrated understanding of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System (WEDSS). WEDSS is the secure system that handles the reporting, investigation, and monitoring of the information we receive.

DHS wants you to feel comfortable if you get a call from one of our contact tracers. Here’s what to expect if you get a call:

  • Our staff will always identify themselves as representatives of the state. They will verify who they are talking with on the call before they even begin to talk about contact tracing.
  • Once they verify who they are speaking with is the right person, they will explain why they are calling.
  • If our contact tracer is calling to say you have been exposed to COVID-19, they won't identify the person you were in contact with or where it might have happened.
  • Our contact tracers take you through isolation and quarantine recommendations, ask how you are feeling, and help you sign up for a free, symptom self-monitoring service.

Our contact tracers will never ask you for credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or your Social Security number. Here are some things they will ask you for:

  • Your name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your address
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address
  • Your gender
  • Your race/ethnicity
  • Whether you have any symptoms of COVID-19

Here's what to expect if you get a text or email: 

If you receive a text or email message from your local or tribal health department or from the DHS Contact Tracing Team, this means you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The text will inform you that you’ve been exposed, and provide you with important information about next steps. Below are important details about the text you will receive.

DHS encourages you to click on the links and read through the education to learn about your risk. Only by understanding quarantine and testing guidance based on our unique situations, are we able to make informed decisions and best protect ourselves and others around us.

Exposed to COVID-19?

If you have been exposed to COVID-19, take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


211 Wisconsin

Call 211 or 877-947-2211 to get referrals for thousands of services across Wisconsin. For COVID-19 questions, text COVID to 211-211. Language assistance is available.

Resilient Wisconsin

Get help learning how to manage stress and adapt to change with services and support from organizations across the state.

Helpful resources

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Last revised July 26, 2022