OLMSTED COUNTY, Minn. - Contact tracing is considered one of the most powerful tools in the fight against the Coronavirus. It's the process of identifying people who may have come into contact with an infected person. But there are some questions surrounding the contact tracing information that states and counties release.
In some states, including Wisconsin, public health officials are releasing the names of establishments where someone with a confirmed case has been. In Olmsted County, they're not doing that.
"Putting a business name out there when there's no real threat to the public can potentially impact their bottom line," explained Graham Briggs, Director of Olmsted County Public Health.
Briggs said right now, the county has the contact tracing resources and capacity to be able to directly talk to people who may have been exposed one on one.
"We're able to talk to every single case that's been diagnosed and talk to every single contact we've identified. So as long as we can do that, the public health goal of what we're trying to do is reached," said Briggs.
Briggs says that's the first line of defense, but it all depends on the situation. If they believe there is a threat to the public, they will let the public know.
"If there's a need for the public to know because we see an ongoing, imminent public health risk, then we need to notify the public. And we're going to work with that business to do that," Briggs said.
Briggs says sometimes public health may not even be aware of a case at a specific business, and sometimes that business will choose to take action on their own. He says in those situations, public health is there to work with the business and support them as they decide how to move forward.
Briggs says Olmsted County Public Health is working on a plan to release weekly information about risk level of certain types of establishments. So while it wouldn't name specific businesses, it would give you an idea of what types of places and activities are putting you at a higher risk.