July 13, 2020 Addressing Social Media Rumors and False Information
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 13, 2020
Randolph County, MO: The Randolph County Health Department would like to address some issues we have seen on social media to help reduce the spread of rumors and false information.
When we are notified of a positive case within our county our communicable disease nurse or another staff member of the Randolph County Health Department contacts the positive patient directly in order to confirm all information and begin contact tracing.
We at the RCHD want to provide everyone with the most up-to-date and accurate information as possible, but in order to do that we have to have time to investigate. We understand that the community wants information quickly, but immediately taking to social media and spreading information that has not been confirmed is irresponsible.
We also understand that some community members want to know all of the details as far as where the person works, their age, their sex, and other personal information. While we understand that some communities provide these things, the RCHD chooses not release this information to help protect the patient’s health information as much as possible. Even with COVID-19, a person has a right to keep their health information private. If a patient chooses to publicly announce that they are positive, they have that right. We as a health department have a responsibility to those who choose not to and will continue to protect that right as much as possible.
When a person tests positive for COVID-19, we are notified by the Department of Health and Senior Services and then begin an investigation. Our staff contacts the positive person directly to make sure that they were notified of their results and are then told that they need to isolate themselves at home if they are not in the hospital. They are interviewed in order to determine which signs and symptoms they have, if any, and get a detailed report on where they have been prior to testing positive and who they had been in close contact with. Once the investigation is complete, we then contact those people who were exposed and explain that they need to quarantine themselves and monitor for symptoms for up to 14 days since their last contact with the positive patient. We only ask those who were direct contacts to the positive patient to quarantine, we do not quarantine contacts of contacts unless they also test positive and become an active case. If they begin to develop symptoms, they get a doctors order and are tested themselves. Symptoms can take 2-14 days to develop after exposure.
If it is determined that a positive case was a risk to the community, such as attending a community event with unknown attendees and contact tracing could not be completed, we would let the community know the dates and times that the person was there in order to let others who attended at that time know to contact us for information and steps they would need to take to best protect themselves and others. Please remember, that a direct contact of a positive case is someone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes.
We appreciate all of the community members who have been patient and given us time to do our jobs accurately and thoroughly. We will continue to provide you with the most up-to-date information that we have through our social media accounts and our local media outlets.