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Using Technology to Facilitate Contact Tracing and Contact Monitoring - COVID-19 Community Bulletin Issue #7


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Community Bulletin 
May 8, 2020 
Issue #7
Using Technology to Facilitate
Contact Tracing and Contact Monitoring
A new online portal improves the state’s ability to monitor the daily health of those with close contact to COVID-19-positive individuals
 

By now, you may have seen the term “contact tracing” in everyday news about COVID-19. What it is and why it’s so important, however, are less clear. Contact tracing and contact monitoring involve some of the most critical daily tasks the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) executes. It refers to the methods used by DOH staff to follow up with and monitor the health of individuals in the community who have had close contact with a person identified as having COVID-19.

Until recently, DOH staff accomplished this element of contact tracing and contact monitoring largely through multiple phone calls daily to those at risk for infection. However, a new, secure portal recently implemented by the DOH is improving the efficiency of data collection by allowing individuals being monitored to input and upload their health status information on their own. A brief online survey allows them to submit their responses directly and securely to DOH daily. The survey asks if they’ve developed a fever, cough, shortness of breath or other symptoms that may indicate signs of COVID-19. 

All information collected is encrypted to protect the privacy of those being monitored via a unique link that expires after 24 hours. If necessary, DOH staff follows up with those logging into the portal. Individuals who do not have internet access or opt out of the surveys will continue to be monitored by phone daily by DOH staff. 

“Having a well-developed contact tracing and monitoring system with timely investigations, especially in underserved areas, is one of the criteria for reopening our state,” said DOH Director Bruce Anderson. “The efficiency of this new system will increase our capacity to identify new cases and their contacts, and may allow us to monitor up to five times more new contacts than we could previously. This enhances our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Reopening of Hawaii's Economy Begins
with Safer-at-Home Order



As the first group of businesses in Hawaii begins to reopen under the guidelines set by the State of Hawaii’s Seventh Supplementary Emergency Proclamation, residents are reminded to continue to wear face masks, practice physical distancing by staying at least 6-feet away from others, and refrain from gathering in groups. To reflect the new approach called for in this most recent COVID-19 response from the State, the former Stay-at-Home order is now being referred to as the Safer-at-Home order. During his press conference on May 5, Gov. David Ige explained to the public, “Although we encourage you to patronize the newly reopened businesses and activities, you are safer at home.” Please continue to stay safe to protect your families and our communities, Hawaii. 
Open for Business: Hawaii Food Establishment
Pre-Opening Inspections Go Virtual
 
A Department of Health Food Safety Branch staff member conducts a pre-opening virtual inspection.

How does the DOH ensure food establishments readying to open in this time of physical distancing obtain the critical pre-operational inspections required to get up and running? The DOH’s Food Safety Branch recently turned to video-conference inspections, conducting its first virtual pre-opening inspection at a brand-new location of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers opening to drive-thru-only business in Hawaii Kai on Oahu.

Available to owners and operators of new food establishments that are not yet open, the
pre-operational inspections are conducted via video conferencing. In Hawaii’s current COVID-19-affected economy, continuing to expedite the inspection process and opening of new food establishments stimulates employment and business growth for the restaurant industry.

"We appreciate the Department’s innovative and timely use of technology to complete the process to safely open our Hawaii Kai drive-thru, allowing Raising Cane's to bring new jobs to the area and safely serve customers hot fresh chicken finger meals,” said Raising Cane's Area Operations Manager Ray Yeung. “The Food Safety Branch provided a clear and thorough procedure, which we were able to comply completely with, and we look forward to working with them in-person when the state fully reopens businesses.”
Everything You Always Wanted to Know
About Face Masks ... Explained
 

Face masks. It’s important to wear your mask whenever you leave your home for essential tasks or to be out in public. Masks are not required if you are out exercising and maintaining appropriate physical distancing from others, and there are exceptions for young children or anyone who has trouble breathing. Free multi-lingual resources encouraging social distancing are available for everyone to download and use. 

Still, relatives or friends may have given you a mask. Maybe you’ve bought one from a local designer or received one for free. Maybe you’ve been crafting face masks for yourself and loved ones. But how do we properly take care of our masks? Do face masks protect us or protect others from coronavirus? What are the dos and don’ts of putting on, taking off and wearing our masks? And what types of masks are out there for us to use? We found The New York Times feature “A User’s Guide to Face Masks” a pretty cool equivalent of a Face Masks 101 course. A practical, easy-to-reference guide to everything face-mask related, the guide presents answers to all of the above questions and more. If you need another mask while one’s in the wash, it has links to multiple instructional videos on making your own face mask at home.
Got a COVID-19
question, Hawaii?
Call 2-1-1.


Seeking information or answers to questions about COVID-19? Contact the Aloha United Way call center by calling
2-1-1. Staff are available to take your call from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. How to reach out:
  • CALL: 2-1-1 from anywhere in the state
  • TEXT: (877) 275-6569
  • EMAILinfo211@...
COVID-19
Depressed or Stressed?
Call (800) 753-6879.



Is the COVID-19 crisis making you depressed or anxious? If you need someone to talk to, reach out to someone you trust. If you need extra support, the DOH has expanded its 24-hour Crisis Line of Hawaii to help. Call (800) 753-6879, or text the word ALOHA to 741741 any time of day. Staff are here for you 24/7.
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