Understanding “Contact Tracing” as part of a contingency plan for events

In recent surveys, 75 percent of meeting organizers said they had not prepared a crisis communication strategy or contingency option for their event.

Since March, a lot has been said about meeting in a COVID world. I have seen numerous articles about hybrid meetings, social distancing, communication and setting, but I have not seen a lot on contact tracing.

 

 

This article, I hope will help planners find information on what can be done in this regard.

Contact Tracing CDC Guidelines:

I found 2,253 articles on Contact Tracing on the CDC website. I read half-a-dozen of them and they all came down the the following basics that can easily be included in a contingency plan. There are two main explicit job tasks to be assigned to designated staff.

  • Case investigator*: This person refers to someone who will interview the case, elicit names, and contact information of the contacts to be monitored, and provide guidance and resources to support people who are in isolation. They may also be the person who initially notifies a patient of a positive test result.
  • Contact tracer*: This person refers to someone who will notify contacts of their exposure and monitor them for 14 days. They will describe quarantine to the contacts, help connect contacts with social services and other support as needed, and commonly be the primary public health person to contact to answer questions.

Planner Confidence Index: When do you expect to resume operating face to face events?

I would add a third role, “Primary COVID” contact. This person refers to someone in your organization that will receive initial phone call in case of a reported COVID-19 case.

Depending on the size of your event, you may want to identify several key individuals for each role.

 

 

Technology can also help with tracing. Non-mandatory contact tracing apps have met with only limited success so far due to privacy concerns, but a new app acts as a health passport for travelers who are virus-free. CovidPass uses blockchain technology. It provides an encrypted record of test results allowing users to prove that they have tested negative for COVID-19. Its creators say it could allow healthy travelers to avoid quarantine. The app could also be used at sports events, entertainment venues, as well as global conferences and trade shows. Unlike contact tracing apps, CovidPass will not track users’ movements. The app is hoping to launch in September.

In case of a COVID-19 outbreak, attendees should have easy access to information and steps to follow to ensure the safety of all participants. Phone number and contacts will be clearly communicated in advance of an event. Transparency and easy access to help should be the primary objectives when developing a contact tracing communication plan.

To my disappointment, my own survey did not produce any significant new ideas on this subject besides what I shared in this article. Anyone who has a “Contact Tracing” plan in place is welcome to share it in the comment field.

*CDC definitions.

Marilyne

Marilyne Bouteiller, a Sales and Marketing Professional, and French native, has written short stories for various publications since 2011. As a child she travelled much of Europe and got into the hospitality industry as a means to follow her love for food and travel. She was exposed to different cultures at an early age, and now enjoys writing about her experiences for i-Meet, the Worldwide Business Community for people who plan meetings and events. Follow her on Instagram @thefrenchinme. You can also read about her experiences on her personal blog at thefrenchinme.net.

1 Comment
  1. Mark 1 month ago

    Thanks Marilyne – Good coverage! Recently completed the Johns Hopkins Contact Tracing course. As you mention above the critical piece is to have a plan. Contagion (not just COVID-19) is GOING to appear at an event. But if prepared properly, it can be dealt with quickly to minimize any spread to other attendees/staff. (isolate vs quarantine) More importantly, the plan will give attendees confidence they can attend safely.

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