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Multiple local health departments will stop Covid contact tracing

WTAP News @ 10- No more covid tracing
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 8:46 PM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department is no longer conducting Covid contact tracing.

The department’s population health director, Malcolm Lanham is calling it a ‘big shift.’

“Since pretty close to the beginning of the pandemic, case investigation and contact tracing has been really at the center of a lot of the mitigation efforts...,” he said.

Now, their strategy is changing due to guidance from West Virginia’s DHHR, which was influenced by CDC recommendations.

It’s a glimpse of normalcy in response to Covid moving closer towards endemic status.

Lanham said, “..., I think this is a very good first step in that direction…,”

Now, instead of finding and reaching out to people who might have come in contact with Covid-positive people, only Covid positive people will be notified.

“The state will send out a mass text message to those that are able to receive text messages,” Lanham explained.

Covid positive people who cannot receive texts will be contacted by the MOV Health Department. If they don’t answer, the health department will leave a voicemail with directions on where to go for Covid guidance.

There is, however, an exception.

“...,if an individual is linked to a known outbreak in a congregate setting - like a long term care facility, a residential setting, a homeless shelter, a childcare setting.”

That’s where contact tracing and case investigation will continue.

Still, there’s more changes to come.

Lanham said, “A lot of employers have requested that they get release letters from us and we’ve been directed by the state to not provide those any longer since we are no longer doing case investigation.”

This includes release letters for schools.

All this doesn’t mean, however, that we’re already in endemic territory.

“If you’re going into a crowded location where you don’t know the people then you’re probably going to need to wear a mask,” Lanham said.

The MOV Health Department says it will be putting more focus on educating people who test positive and the rest of the public about Covid mitigation.

The Washington County Health Department will also no longer be conducting contact tracing except for outbreaks in congregate settings, according to their media contact.

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