Los Angeles County Public Health said it will be offering $20 gift cards to individuals who complete their contact tracing interviews in their entirety. They will serve as an incentive to finish the typically hour-long interviews.
While updating the county on COVID-19 numbers on Monday, the Department of Public Health said it has had issues with compliance as only 66 percent of the interviews have been fully completed.
“It can be stressful and requires that folks look through their calendars, work schedule and other documents,” L.A. County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said about the contact tracing interviews.
Los Angeles has been urging residents to pick up the phone if a contact tracer calls, with Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeting out, “Contact tracing is essential to helping stop the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives in our communities.”
Contact tracing is essential to helping stop the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives in our communities. Learn more about how it works and please do your part. pic.twitter.com/b3HPQUQRiE
— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) July 17, 2020
The way contact tracing has been conducted in the county is through phone interviews from Public Health specialists. They involve questioning about COVID-19 symptoms, where an individual has been or who they have had contact with.
The records are protected by HIPPA and not shared with any other agencies. Information about credit card or social security numbers are never asked and Public Health has warned the public about scammers posing as contact tracers in order to retrieve this information from individuals.
Less than 50 percent of those interviewed, however, provided information about work, or close contacts, as Ferrer said fears of job or friend loss had been expressed by interviewees.
Contact tracers cannot force individuals to finish the interviews or answer any questions they do not feel comfortable answering.