Contact Tracing

MBL Contact Tracing Program

All reports of a MBL community member who has been exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive are forwarded to the MBL’s Contact Tracing Team. A Contact Tracer will interview each individual with confirmed COVID-19 to determine if they have been in close contact with other members of the MBL community.

Importance of Contact Tracing

It is vitally important for all members of the MBL community to cooperate with the MBL’s Contact Tracing Team. Their work has been essential in limiting the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Members of the MBL community have agreed to cooperate with contact tracers as part of the attestation required to access campus facilities. Please also note that the Contact Tracing Team has no role in enforcement of policy. The Contact Tracing Team’s paramount priority is to limit the spread of COVID-19 by identifying and notifying close contacts of known cases. The MBL’s Contact Tracing Program has been active since September 16, 2020.

Close Contact Definition

close contact is defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as any individual who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. The Contact Tracing Team notifies close MBL contacts of their exposure, provides them with public health recommendations to limit the spread of the virus, and directs them to resources for further support. For further information, see the Exposure Protocol.

Protecting Confidentiality

The Contact Tracing Team routinely notifies the appropriate MBL personnel concerning new cases. A top priority in any such notification is to maintain the confidentiality of infected individuals, and to limit information about a patient’s identity to a small number of MBL personnel with oversight duties for the individual.  Only people whose exposure to an infected individual meets appropriate risk thresholds will be contacted. The MBL’s primary means of providing updates on new cases is the campus-wide dashboard. In limited cases when communications are sent about specific new cases, such messages will always avoid providing identifying information about the COVID-19 individual.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health via Barnstable County or the Town of Falmouth Health Officer uses the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) to conduct contact tracing that looks more broadly at an infected individual’s close contacts, in particular those that may have occurred off-campus.