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KCHD offers clarification on contact tracing, quarantine procedures

Health officials also asked for continued patience as team members continue to work in the local COVID-19 situation.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — During a COVID-19 update on Tuesday, the Knox County Health Department took some time to address confusion about contact tracing and quarantine procedures.

Charity Menefee, KCHD's Director of Communicable and Environmental Disease and Emergency Preparedness, said regardless of where you are tested, if you test positive and are a Knox County resident, the department will contact you according to state and federal guidelines to begin a contact tracing investigation.

You will be asked about where you have been and who you have been around to determine if there is a point of exposure and if other people could have been exposed as a close contact.

Health officials ask that you stay home until your test results return.

RELATED: After exposures at counties' commission meetings, KCHD says stay home until results return

KCHD said your information is kept private during all of those steps, and you will never be asked for your social security number or bank account information.

If you are unsure about a contact tracing call, Menefee said to take down the name of the person calling you and to reach out to KCHD's public information line: 865-215-5555.

Menefee also said you should use this information line if you think you should be getting a call and have not. She said the call may come from 615 number at times.

Mainly, KCHD is asking for continued patience as its team works through cases.

"They're not making up the rules that are being enforced. We're following CDC and TDH guidance. With all the things that go along with that are to protect your friends, your family, your community as we move forward," Menefee said.

Menefee also offered clarity on the difference between isolation and quarantine.

She said isolation is for people who test positive and show symptoms. They must stay in isolation for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms or when they tested positive if they are asymptomatic. They must be fever-free and feeling better for at least 24 hours at the end of this period to get out of isolation. 

Quarantine, on the other hand, is for close contacts. They must be quarantined for 14 days from last known contact with the person with a positive case. If they are living in the same household and cannot fully separate, the quarantine begins when the case's isolation period ends, which could be 24 days or more.