State making the move to D.I.Y. COVID-19 contact tracing

Contact tracing
Contact tracing(WWNY)
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 12:25 PM EST
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NEW YORK, New York (WWNY) - With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett has announced that the state is moving toward a “more self management” style of COVID contact tracing.

What does it mean? If you test positive for COVID-19, you won’t receive a call from a contact tracer. Instead, people who test positive will be directed to a state website that provides guidance and a form to fill out. Officials say that website will go live Wednesday, and will be accompanied by detailed information for people and employers.

The decision was made as local health departments have found themselves taxed by time-consuming contact tracing calls. And because the Omicron variant has a short incubation period, the window of time that contact tracing can effectively prevent the spread of the virus has shortened as well, according to Dr. Bassett. She says contact tracing has become nearly impossible.

Counties will now decide whether or not they want to continue contact tracing.

While Jefferson County has not released an official statement, County Administrator Bob Hagemann tells 7 News the county will likely follow the state’s lead in moving to self-reporting COVID cases.

“The challenge has gotten greater and greater because the number of positive cases has exploded throughout the north country,” Hagemann said. “The challenge of getting to everyone in a timely fashion is severely limited, and with the state’s approach that they’re announcing today, again we’ll likely be following suit with that because it seems like it’s the most responsible way at this point in time to stay on top of things.”

Bassett says the new rules will follow CDC guidance, and reiterated that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should stay home.

St. Lawrence County Interim Health Director Jolene Munger says her office is still waiting for guidance from the State Health Department, but says SLC Public Health has historically followed state guidance through the pandemic.

Lewis County officials say they are waiting on more information from the state before making a decision. But they say it is likely they will be moving towards not doing contract tracing and letting people self report.

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