County Health shifts to modified contact tracing as COVID spikes

Those testing positive told to notify close contacts

By Dave Marner, Managing Editor
Posted 11/25/20

Gasconade County’s Health Department on Tuesday announced it was adopting a modified contact tracing plan due to recent spikes in COVID-19 positive tests across the region and …

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County Health shifts to modified contact tracing as COVID spikes

Those testing positive told to notify close contacts

Posted

Gasconade County’s Health Department on Tuesday announced it was adopting a modified contact tracing plan due to recent spikes in COVID-19 positive tests across the region and state.

Residents testing positive for the virus are being asked to do their own contact tracing with those they’ve been in close contact with, according to a release from Greg Lara, county health director.

“After exploring expedited contact tracing and community mitigation strategies, the Gasconade County Health Department, is shifting to a modified approach to contact tracing which will allow positive cases to immediately notify their contacts as soon as they receive positive lab results,” Lara’s release stated.

The county agency has provided a guide to contact tracing which will be posted to The Republican’s website (www.gasconadecountyrepublican.com).

Health officials are now telling residents they should not wait for instructions or additional information from their respective health department. Rather, those who test positive for COVID-19 should refer to the “COVID-19 Patient Guidance Tool” which will also be provided at area testing sites.

“All positive cases will be expected to notify their contacts,” Lara stated. “This will eliminate the wait time and hopefully, stop people from unknowingly spreading the virus. We are also hopeful that people will feel more comfortable telling their contacts about their positive result versus a stranger on the phone.”

The agency cited recent problems with an increasing number of contacts believing they are incorrectly being named as direct contacts and would rather be contacted by a person they know than a stranger such as a public health professional. He noted some people are avoiding answering their phones or do not give complete information when reached about a possible close contact.

Other problems cited as delays in contact tracing include the several days it may take for a positive test result to be made, not all lab results being received, not all lab results having complete or correct information, and those who decline to disclose their direct contacts — choosing to notify their contacts on their own.

The agency will focus on case investigations and household contact quarantine instances. The agency “may no longer be calling non-household close contacts of positive cases,” Lara noted.

“Given the rapidly increasing cases of COVID-19, the health department will also be prioritizing case investigation to our vulnerable populations. All positive cases will be expected to notify their contacts. This will eliminate the wait time and hopefully, stop people from unknowingly spreading the virus. We are also hopeful that people will feel more comfortable telling their contacts about their positive result versus a stranger on the phone.” (See Health Message from Greg Lara here).

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