Case Investigation and Contact Tracing: COVID-19
Case investigation and contact tracing work together to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Case investigation identifies where people who have COVID-19 may have been exposed or infected others. Case investigations also help to identify contacts, or people who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Contact tracing helps to further slow the spread of the virus by telling contacts to stay home and away from others. It is important for cases to stay home and isolate and for contacts to quarantine even if they feel fine, so they do not infect others.
For more detailed guidance on isolation and quarantine, refer to CDC: Quarantine and Isolation. Use the CDC Quarantine and Isolation Calculator to determine how long you may need to stay home and away from others.
How COVID-19 case investigation works
Lab tests for COVID-19 are reported to the health department the same way other infectious diseases are reported.
Some people may receive a phone call from a public health worker doing case investigations. Most people who test positive for COVID-19 will receive a text message from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Texting allows public health workers to reach people quickly and provide important health information to slow the spread of COVID-19.
We may also send you informational text messages, phone calls, and emails about vaccines and testing. Visit COVID-19 Messages from the State of Minnesota for more information.
Scam warning: Please note that MDH will never ask for any financial information, your social security number, or insurance information during or after a case investigation. If you receive a communication from someone claiming they are MDH staff that asks for any of this information, do not provide this information to them, as it is likely a scam.
A person who tests positive for COVID-19 will receive a text message from MDH at the number they provided when they got tested. The text will come from phone number 877-790-8031.
The text message is available in multiple languages and provides a phone number and link to our website where the person can access information on the most current public health recommendations and resources.
Keeping people informed is important for helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota.
How COVID-19 contact tracing works
Contact tracing helps to further slow the spread of the virus by trying to identify close contacts of people who have COVID-19 during the interview process. Close contacts are people who may have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 and should watch for symptoms, get tested, and follow the recommended quarantine guidance.
More information can be found at Close Contacts and Quarantine: COVID-19.
Minnesotans who test positive and use the COVIDAware app also have the option to enter a verification code to anonymously let others know they tested positive. That way other people who have the app on their phone will receive an alert to let them know they were exposed and can quarantine if needed. If a person doesn't receive a verification code after their positive test result, they can call 833-431-2053 to request one. Please note that we cannot provide codes for at-home COVID-19 tests.
Special teams from the health department may get involved if a close contact is a health care worker or lives or works in a congregate setting. This includes someone who works in a nursing home or other settings where a lot of people live in the same place, such as jails, shelters, treatment centers, etc. These types of setting can be higher risk of being exposed to someone with COVID-19 and exposing others to the virus.
Protecting the privacy of people’s personal information is critical to public health. It is also state law. People who test positive for COVID-19 get a detailed privacy notice when contacted by public health workers to let them know what information is being asked for, who has access to it, and how it will be shared. People have the right to refuse an interview or giving any information during the interview. Information given to the health department is shared with local public health officials and public health staff working on the COVID-19 response.
To protect the health and safety of others, the health department may need to share your name and COVID-19 status with a school, child care, or workplace especially if you work in a health care setting. We will try to reach you by phone first to explain why your name may need to be shared.
- Call the COVID-19 Public Hotline: 833-431-2053.
- If You Are Sick: COVID-19
More information about what to do if you are sick, including translated fact sheets explaining what to do if you have COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has it.
- CDC: Quarantine and Isolation
A tool to help determine how long you need to isolate, quarantine, or take other steps to prevent spreading COVID-19.
- Avoiding Phone Scams
If you have concerns about a scammer pretending to be from the health department, visit this page on what we will ask for and what we will never ask.