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What you need to know about contact tracing and how to do it

Two experts on public health explain how far back you should be able to trace who you've been in contact with.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — More businesses are closing to clean as employees test positive for COVID-19 with cases popping up at restaurants and major retail stores. If there are positive cases at a business you've been to, what should you do? 

“I get that question a lot," says Dr. Vincy Samuel with Baptist Health, "So I know somebody who knows somebody that was positive and they worry that that means they’re exposed because someone in their household was exposed. That’s where it’s really important for everybody to self-monitor.” 

Samuel says if you start having symptoms of COVID-19, that's when you need to contact your doctor. 

You can keep a list of where you've been, when, and who you've been in prolonged contact with. Samuel says prolonged contact means anyone you’ve been in 6 feet proximity to or closer and have been around for 15 minutes or longer.

If you are going out to bars and restaurants, there is no way for you to know who all was in the business at the time you are so experts say don’t let your guard down.

Samuel says continue social distancing, stay 6 feet away from others, wear your mask in public areas and wash your hands. 

She says if there is a positive case, you’ll have done what you needed to try to protect yourself.

RELATED: Contact tracing turns healthcare workers into detectives to help stop spread of coronavirus

Infection preventionist at UF Health Jacksonville, Marko Predic, says you only will have to contact trace if you test positive and even then you'll have help. He says the Department of Health will do the contact tracing for you. 

Samuel says the Dept. of Health usually only traces back two days prior to a patient testing positive or two days prior to symptoms showing. While Predic says you may want to individually trace back farther and notify people if you test positive for the coronavirus. 

“Some people don’t have symptoms and (they) test positive," Predic says, "(They) don’t know how long (they've) been positive for. Probably I would say a good rule of thumb probably go back 2 weeks. I’d notify everyone just out of precaution.”

RELATED: The Buzz: Johns Hopkins offers a free course to train COVID-19 contact tracers

If you want to go one step further, you can become a contact tracer. Johns Hopkins University has waived their fee for their contact tracing training course in an effort to help train thousands of people across the US. You can sign up here.

You will have to contact your local health department to see what other training and requirements are needed to be hired as a contact tracer.