SAN LUIS OBISPO — The County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department is expanding its contact tracing team to 24 people, approximately tripling its size, to help in the fight against COVID-19 in local communities.

Trained contact tracers continue to fully investigate all confirmed cases of COVID-19 in San Luis Obispo County and their workload is increasing as the number of local cases increase. The number of contacts per case — the people who may have been exposed to the virus by one person who is sick — have also increased as the community reopens.

“We are working hard to manage the spread of COVID-19 in SLO County,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer. “If you have been exposed, we will call you and ask you to self-quarantine at home based on when you were exposed. Help us slow transmission and answer the call to manage the spread.”

Since the pandemic began, the County Public Health Department has traced 100 percent of the confirmed cases in SLO County. Health officials say they are committed to continuing this level of investigation to protect the community’s health.

Contact tracing is a time-tested public health practice in which trained investigators follow up on each case to identify those who may have been exposed to the disease. They ask how the patients are doing, issue isolation orders, and help connect them with care and services, if needed.

They then notify those who may have been exposed, without disclosing where or by whom, issue quarantine letters, and organize free testing and other services if needed. Those at high risk receive daily follow-up calls. Throughout the process, all personal information, including names, is strictly protected.

“We are not calling to enforce any state or local orders. We will never ask about your immigration status, we will never ask for your social security number, and we will never ask for payment,” Dr. Borenstein said. “You can do your part in the fight against COVID-19 by answering your phone if the health department calls and self-quarantining if ill or exposed.”