If I participate in contact tracing for COVID-19 using a digital tool, is my personal health information secure?
Yes, if you agree to participate in contact tracing for COVID-19 with the health department, your information is secure.
Discussions with health department staff are confidential. This means that your personal and medical information will be kept private and only shared with those who may need to know, like your healthcare provider. Your name will not be shared with those you came in contact with. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the health department will only notify people you were in close contact with (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) that they might have been exposed to COVID-19.
Health departments may use case management tools to help make the contact tracing process more efficient. If you choose to provide information through one of these tools, your information is secure and stored with the health department. These tools also help health departments quickly receive and analyze information about COVID-19. Case management tools are under the same laws and regulations for all sensitive health information use (e.g. HIPPA). You must provide consent for the health department to collect information using a case management tool. Just like traditional contact tracing, digital tools will not collect information regarding money, Social Security numbers, bank account information, salary information, or credit card numbers.
Exposure notification tools may be an app that you can download on your personal cell phone. If you choose to download an exposure notification app for COVID-19, your information is secure. Exposure notification apps are developed in collaboration with or endorsed by health departments. These apps undergo rigorous testing to determine their trustworthiness, security, and ability to protect people’s privacy. Until you give consent to share information with your local health department, any information you have entered into the app is stored only on your personal phone. Your information is stored only on your own phone and is not sent to the health department or any other third party. The app and your information can be deleted any time. When you consent to share your information with the local health department, your information is secure.
See also: Spread and transmission