Are You a Close Contact of Someone with COVID-19?

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) follow CDC guidelines and define a close contact of a COVID-19 case as being:

  • You were within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19, regardless of whether masks were worn, for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period* starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated, OR;
  • You had physical contact with a person with COVID-19 while infectious.

    Exception: In the K-12 school setting, CDC guidance states a student who was within 3-6 feet of an infected student is not considered a close contact if both studentswere engaged in consistent and correct use of well-fitting masks at all times. 
    • NOTE: This exception does not apply to teachers, staff or other adults in the classroom setting.

*Individual exposures added together over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).

When Public Health is notified that a person tested positive for COVID-19, we investigate all the places and people the person who tested positive was in contact with, starting 48 hours before their symptoms began. This can include household contacts, workplaces, healthcare workers, and other close contacts.

Public Health then reaches out to close contacts to inform them of their exposure, provide instructions for next steps, and connect the contact to resources that can support them as they watch for symptoms and reduce risk of spread.

How You Will Find Out

If you have questions about the validity of a phone call or text you received from Public Health, you can speak to a contact tracing specialist at 1-855-414-4673.

To help facilitate our contact tracing efforts, Public Health reaches out to close contacts of lab confirmed COVID-19 cases via phone call and text message to inform them of their exposure. On the phone call, we will provide instructions for next steps and connect you to resources that can support you and your family while watching for symptoms and reducing risk of spread.

For those with mobile phone numbers, you also may receive a text message from Public Health, with a link to a  secure, confidential online form with a few brief questions. Once you submit that to us, we can then send specific information about when you were exposed and what to do during the next 14 days. The form will take less than 5 minutes to complete. It includes questions about:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Best contact information

Note: If we are unable to reach you by phone, we may also try to reach you through text or email, letting you know that we have important information and to please call us back

What You’ll Be Asked to Do

Once you are identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, Public Health will provide you guidance about next steps. You’ll be asked to:

  1. Stay home as much as possible, except to get essential medical care, prescriptions, and food. In some cases, you may be allowed to go to work. See Quarantine Guidance for Household and Close Contacts.
  2. Sign up for SARA Alert, an electronic symptom monitoring system that sends a daily email, text message or phone call asking if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms of COVID-19can occur from 2-14 days after exposure.
    • If you do not develop symptoms within the 14-day time frame, you will stop receiving SARA Alert reminders and are no longer at risk from that exposure. Since it can take 2-14 days to show symptoms of COVID-19, it is recommended that symptom monitoring and mask wearing continue through Day 14 after exposure.
    • If you develop symptoms within the 14-day time frame, Public Health will reach out to you to discuss your symptoms, how to get tested, and what you should do to address your symptoms and prevent spread. If your test comes back positive, the process will start over with interviewing you and notifying your close contacts of their exposure.
  3. If you are currently experiencing COVID-like symptoms, you should contact your provider or go to a testing site to be tested for COVID-19. If your test comes back positive, the process will start over with interviewing you and notifying your close contacts of their exposure.

back to top

How to Know if the Call is Real

Public Health has been made aware people have received false phone calls about COVID-19 exposures. We understand that this can cause concern in the community and make anyone cautious about a phone call notifying them of an exposure.

What to expect when we call:

  • If you have Caller ID, you may see the number 1-855-414-4673 or “Public Health,” or “AZ Health.” In some cases, our call may show as “Unknown.” If you are unsure about taking a call or miss a call, please check your voicemail!
  • We will let you know we are calling from Maricopa County Department of Public Health or AZ 2-1-1, a partner we have contracted with to assist in this process
  • We may inform you of the date of exposure if it will not violate the privacy of the individual who tested positive

Some ways you can tell if a phone call is NOT from Maricopa County Public Health:

  • We will never release the name of the person who tested positive
  • We will never ask you for financial information, such as bank account information or payment details

Additional Resources

back to top