U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

When COVID-19 Contact Tracers Reach Out, Please Answer the Call

caution sign The information on this page may be outdated as it was published 2 years ago.

Case investigation and contact tracing are important strategies for helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community. These strategies involve calling people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to:

  1. make sure they have the support and resources they need to isolate or quarantine; and
  2. identify and reach out via phone and text to anyone they’ve been in close contact with to encourage these individuals to get tested and to self-quarantine, if appropriate. Contacts are told the date on which they were exposed, but not the name of the person who exposed them.

When public health representatives call, you can do your part by answering the phone and providing information that can help stop the spread of COVID-19.  If you miss the call, please listen to the message and call back!

Who will be calling?

Over the course of the pandemic, local health departments have been sharing contact tracing work with the state-funded COVID-19 Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC).  The CTC will be transitioning all contact tracing back to the health departments over the course of the fall.  You may hear from the CTC through December; after that, people with COVID-19 and their close contacts will be hearing from regional public health staff.     

How can I verify that the CTC or the Cambridge Public Health Department is calling?

 When a contract tracer from the Community Tracing Collaborative calls, your phone will show “MA COVID Team.” CTC calls use the prefix 833 and 857. Calls are made between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. When contract tracers call, they give their name and identify where they work. CTC staff can also provide a letter to businesses on request indicating that they are working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

If you are concerned that a call is not legitimate, you can contact the Community Tracing Collaborative at 833-638-1585 or 857-305-2728 to seek confirmation that contact tracers are trying to reach you.

What happens during the call?

When we call, a health department representative will check on your own health and ask you for a list of the people you were in close contact with during the two days before you experienced symptoms (or, if you did not have symptoms, during the two days before your positive test). “Close contact” is defined as being within 6 feet of someone for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period1.  We will also ask for the phone numbers and addresses of your close contacts. 

We’ll call your contacts to let them know that they have been exposed to COVID-19 and encourage them to get tested.  We will not share your name or any of your personal information. Your information is strictly confidential and will be treated as the private medical record it is.

Why contact tracing matters

Contact tracing helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 by helping people who may become cases get tested and safely quarantine, reducing additional exposure to others. Many people who have COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms and don’t realize that they may be spreading the virus. So, if you get a call, keep your family and friends safe by answering. We're all in this together; by sharing information and listening to the direction of the health department, you can help to stop the spread of the virus.

More about your privacy

The confidentiality of your private information is protected by Massachusetts law. It will only be used to help the Commonwealth respond to and prevent cases of an infectious disease. We will not release your name to anyone.

1 Close contact is defined differently in Massachusetts schools, per DESE protocol.

Page was posted on 11/2/2021 2:22 PM
Page was last modified on 7/25/2023 12:31 AM
Contact Us

How can we help?

Please provide as much detail below as possible so City staff can respond to your inquiry:

As a governmental entity, the Massachusetts Public Records Law applies to records made or received by the City. Any information received through use of this site is subject to the same provisions as information provided on paper.

Read our complete privacy statement

Service Requests

Enter a service request via SeeClickFix for things like missed trash pickups, potholes, etc., click here