Monday, November 23, 2020

Public Health Asks for Community's Help in Contact Tracing

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2020 at 5:33 PM

With a surge in cases, Public Health is changing its COVID-19 contact tracing process  and is asking for the public’s help in navigating the current circumstances.

Moving forward, contact tracers will continue to contact those who test positive for an initial interview but will be designating cases as either “priority” or “low risk,” with healthcare workers, school staff, daycare workers, those living in “congregate” settings, among others, placed in the priority tier on a case-by-case basis.

Those deemed priority cases will have an investigator assigned to reach out to known contacts while others in the low-risk category will be asked to do so themselves “right away to notify them of the exposure and forward information on quarantine."

“We are at a point where we need the community to assist us in quickly reaching their close contacts in order to help contain spread of the virus,” Health Officer Teresa Frankovich said in a news release.

“We reported 56 new cases since Friday alone, and last week the county saw its largest weekly case increase since the beginning of the pandemic,” she said. “It’s clear that it’s time to adjust our strategy as much of the state has already had to do.”

Read the county release below: 
Public Health is modifying the contact investigation process and asking for the community’s assistance in order to better respond to an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases. Contact tracers will continue to reach out to each county resident who tests positive and will conduct an initial interview.

The investigator will assign the case as either “priority” or “low-risk.” Some examples of priority cases include health care workers in hospitals or clinical settings, staff in school or daycares and those who reside or work in congregate living facilities, but priority will be assigned on a case-by-case basis.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich said, “We are at a point where we need the community to assist us in quickly reaching their close contacts in order to help contain spread of the virus.” If a case is designated as priority, case investigators will be assigned to follow up directly with their close contacts.

If a case is designated lower-risk, the contact investigation team will ask that individual to reach out to their own close contacts right away to notify them of the exposure and forward information on quarantine.

A close contact is defined as: Anyone who was within six feet of a COVID-positive person for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour timeframe during the infectious period.

A person’s infectious period is: Two days before the onset of symptoms until it has been at least 10 days since symptoms began; AND No fever for at least 24 hours; AND Symptoms have improved.

For positive individuals who do not have symptoms, the infectious period begins two days before the test and continues for 10 days.

Dr. Frankovich said it is no longer practical for case investigators to reach out to all contacts of a known positive.

“We reported 56 new cases since Friday alone, and last week the county saw its largest weekly case increase since the beginning of the pandemic,” she said. “It’s clear that it’s time to adjust our strategy as much of the state has already had to do.”

Read more about what to do while waiting for your test results, and access information on isolation and quarantine at humboldtgov.org/blanketorders. For the most recent COVID-19 information, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or during business hours by contacting covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or calling 707-441-5000.
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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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