AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Education (DOE) wants Mainers to be on the lookout for calls from its coronavirus contact tracers.
The department's contact tracers use a tool called "Sara Alert"—a database for public health officials to keep tabs on the symptoms of those who have tested positive or have been exposed to the virus.
The alert system is used by the Maine CDC and other collaborating departments, like the Maine DOE, to contact trace. But the Maine DOE says when they try to contact trace school-related COVID-19 cases, some people haven't been picking up the phone, which is preventing them from collecting important information.
Emily Poland, a Maine DOE school nurse consultant, said it's really important to have as much data as possible.
“Each individual person might be thinking only about their case, so it doesn't really matter if I respond,” Poland said. “But you know, if we have 700 people that think, 'It doesn't matter if I respond,' we're missing out on that good information that we could be learning from their experience of being in a being exposed to covid.”
Poland said another struggle is that parents aren't answering the important calls associated with this system, thinking it's a scam call.
Any message associated with Sara Alert only comes from one number: 844-957-2721.
Contact tracers will never ask you:
- Your social security number
- Your immigration status
- Your credit card number, bank account, or other billing information
Contact tracers will ask you:
- Your date of birth
- What county you live in
- Your contact information including phone number, mailing address, and email address (if your preferred contact method)
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19
The Maine DOE says this information is kept private, just like a medical record. Information that goes in the Sara Alert system includes your date of birth and address, but that information is deleted 14 days after you end quarantine.
You may request your data not go in the Sara Alert system. If you request to not share the information, the Maine DOE says the team will continue to monitor you without messages from Sara Alert. You can also choose not to answer questions that make you uncomfortable.
For more information about the Sara Alert system, click here.