Van Buren/Cass District Health Department shifts COVID-19 contract tracing priority

HARTFORD — Over the past month, the number of positive COVID-19 cases reported to Van Buren/Cass District Health Department have increased significantly.

Recent cases have reported numerous close contacts making contact tracing efforts difficult to sustain.  Even with assistance from partner organizations and increased staffing, capacity has been reached, officials said. Individuals and their close contacts may not receive a phone call from Van Buren/Cass District Health Department.

Effective immediately, Van Buren/Cass District Health Department has made the decision, based on the overwhelming number of Van Buren and Cass County cases, to focus efforts on containing potential outbreaks by continuing case investigation and contact tracing in nursing homes, hospitals, and schools as well as clusters identified as priority by VBCDHD such as high-risk congregate settings; and assisting businesses with COVID-related issues.

Now, the health department is asking for the public’s help in following quarantining and isolation measures.

Individuals who test positive should take the following steps, according to the health department:

  • Isolate for 10 days. Individuals need to isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or 10 days from the day a positive test sample was collected if they do not have symptoms. After 10 days, if symptoms have improved and they are fever free without the use of medications, it is ok to return to normal activities. If someone is still feeling sick, they should consult with a medical professional, as some people can be contagious for a longer period. If symptoms improve and the person is fever free without the use of medications, it is okay to return to normal activities after 10 days
  • Notify all of close contacts and ask that they quarantine. A close contact includes people who have been within 6 feet of a person who tests positive for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting two days before symptoms began, or for COVID-positive individuals without symptoms, two days prior to when the test sample was collected.

Inform close contacts they need to self-quarantine for 14 days from their last contact.

  • If symptoms arise, get tested.

“CDC and MDHHS guidance have not changed. Wearing masks and social distancing are imperative if we are going to eliminate coronavirus. Stay home if you are sick and stay away from social gatherings, especially with people outside of your household and if masking and social distancing is not happening,” said Dr. Larry Wile, medical director of Van Buren/Cass District Health Department. “We are counting on our entire community to help stop the spread and slow the infection until we can access other tools for prevention, like a vaccine.  We ask everyone be ready to take action on their own if they test positive for COVID-19.  Isolating and notifying your close contacts are critical to containing the spread within our community.”

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