NKY Health Dept. Adapting Contact Tracing Strategy in Wake of COVID Surge
The Northern Kentucky Health Department said on Tuesday that is adapting its contact tracing strategy immediately in the wake of surging COVID-19 cases in the region.
Contact tracing is a strategy used to identify and quarantine people who are considered to be close contacts to individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. It is used as a response to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The rapidly increasing COVID-19 rates in Northern Kentucky are outstripping the health department’s capacity to continue contact tracing in the same way it has been performed to date, and efforts must now be prioritized, a news release said.
“Just like the health care systems can be overwhelmed with high levels of COVID-19 in the community, public health systems can be as well,” said District Director of Health Dr. Lynne Saddler. “Northern Kentucky has reached a critical point and we must now prioritize how we investigate cases and identify, trace and notify contacts.”
Moving forward, NKY Health and other health departments throughout Kentucky will be focused on the following priorities:
• Investigating new COVID-19 cases by collecting the minimum amount of information needed to provide education on isolation.
• Advising new cases to notify all family, friends, coworkers and any others who meet close contact criteria to self quarantine for 14 days from their last exposure to the individual who is positive and providing information on quarantine. Close contacts are those who are identified to have been within six feet of someone who is positive for a total of 15 minutes or more during the positive individual’s infectious period.
• Providing documents to schools, employers and other entities to educate and guide them in the safe return of persons to these environments, rather than issuing individualized releases from quarantine for students and/or workers.
• Continuing current procedures for congregate settings such as long-term care, senior living facilities, prisons and shelters, and disproportionately impacted minority populations.
All four counties in the Northern Kentucky health district are in the red (critical) zone.
With such widespread, uncontrolled COVID-19 transmission in Northern Kentucky, all residents should assume they are at a heightened risk of exposure every time they interact with other people within six feet of each other for a total of fifteen minutes or more.
Residents of Northern Kentucky are strongly urged to take protective measures now: keep six feet away from others, do not attend or host gatherings, avoid all non-essential activities outside of your home, reduce your overall activity and number of individuals outside of your home with whom you are in contact, reduce in-person shopping and shop online, avoid dining in restaurants and bars by ordering curbside and take out, wear your face covering properly and consistently, and wash your hands frequently.
“We are heading into a very dangerous phase of this pandemic and we should all be concerned,” said Saddler. “Northern Kentuckians need to make a concerted effort to turn this around now by taking these precautions.”