by Nicole Nielsen | CBS 11

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Tarrant County Public Health is using contact tracing to battle COVID-19.

The department is urging residents to answer their phone calls or check their voicemails to see if they have been contacted.

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Russ Jones, Tarrant County’s Chief Epidemiologist, is one of a few dozen making phone calls to North Texans who have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Contact tracing is when health departments reach out to COVID-19 patients and find out who they’ve had contact with.

They then warn those who have been around someone contaminated in hopes to stop the virus from spreading.

Jones says it has a high success rate, however people have to answer their phones to become aware.

“What usually happens, is we go to voicemail. The modern telemarketing and spamming that goes on, it hurts us,” he said.

With so many spam calls these days, it is hard to know who and what are at the other end of the line.

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Jones said there is a high chance it will show up on your cell phone as a random number, however sometimes it may say Tarrant County Public Health.

If you do not answer, they will leave a message asking you to call back.

With governments slowly reopening and people spending more time outside with friends and family, Jones says it is more important than ever to continue social distancing, wearing a mask, and self-isolating when necessary.

“If you are ill, or you believe you have been in contact with a known case, you need to stay home,” he said.

With no clear end in sight, these phone calls could persist into 2021.

Jones says in the future, the department is looking into texting so more people are likely to respond.

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He says if they do that, there will never be a link in the text message to click on.