DETROIT – Coronavirus cases are rising in Michigan and the state is trying to ramp up its contact tracing -- but it’s hard to trace when you can’t be contacted.
Michigan health officials are asking residents to pick up the phone, because it could be information related to COVID-19.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan, local health departments and staff from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are reaching out to Michiganders who have tested positive as well as to the contacts of those individuals.
These public health staff are calling to check on health status, provide information about COVID-19 and actions people should be taking, help locate needed services and track the spread of the infection in the community.
“We recognize many people do not like to answer the phone if they don’t recognize the number, but during this time this call could be someone offering you important information regarding your health,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We ask Michiganders to please answer these calls and return voicemails from the local health departments or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.”
Calls may be from area codes where residents typically do not receive calls from, including the 517 area code. To keep each person’s information private and to provide residents with information they need, it is important for health department staff to speak directly with impacted Michiganders.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel recently issued a reminder to residents to be on alert for scammers spoofing numbers from local health departments. Spoofing allows it to appear as if the caller is dialing from a recognizable number to encourage you to pick up the phone. MDHHS wants residents to be aware of how to determine a scam call from a legitimate call from the health department.
Local health departments and MDHHS will not:
- Offer medication for treatment or prevention of COVID-19.
- Ask for Medicaid or other insurance information for billing purposes.
- Request personal financial information such as a social security number or driver’s license number.
Legitimate questions that will be asked include current health status, symptoms they may be experiencing, individuals they have been in contact with, places they have been in recent days and other health-related questions.
If you are concerned about a call you received from a local health department or MDHHS, please contact the COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136. This line is available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.