County to limit COVID-19 contact tracing surveys to at-risk groups

San Diego County reported 562 new COVID-19 infections and 10 deaths on Thursday, as public health officials continued their move toward limiting contact tracing. The county has officially announced that it will follow the national recommendation to focus investigations of COVID-19 cases on people who are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the disease, such as people 65 and older. and those living in congregate care settings.

The county will no longer be tracing contacts of all individuals, but will continue to support high-risk settings and outbreak responses, a statement from the Health and Human Services Agency said.

“COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available and the majority of the local population is now better protected as they have received all recommended doses,” said county public health officer Dr. Wilma J. Wooten. “As a result, our efforts are now directed towards high-risk individuals or individuals who reside in congregate settings, such as nursing homes, prisons and homeless shelters, and to guide them to care. and treatment.”

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The county began the limited approach last week, following advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which no longer recommends case investigation and contact tracing of every new COVID-19 case.

The change will result in fewer case investigations and contact tracing since the new target populations represent only about 10% of the total number of reported cases, the county statement said.

“Widespread vaccination of most age groups, increased use of rapid antigen tests, and the emergence of more transmissible variants with short incubation periods have re-prioritized case investigations and contact tracing,” Wooten said.

HHSA reported 436 new COVID-19 infections and seven additional virus-related deaths in its latest data, while the number of patients hospitalized with the virus rose slightly.

According to state data Wednesday, San Diego County’s patient count rose to 313 from 294 on Tuesday. The number of those patients in intensive care increased by three to 60 on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s numbers increased San Diego County’s cumulative totals to 742,724 cases and 5,090 deaths.

The percentage of COVID-19 tests that came back positive last week fell to 3.6% on Tuesday, from 4.4% on Friday. The county reports this data on Tuesdays and Fridays. An average of 15,898 tests have been reported daily over the past week.

A total of 1,182,653 — or 55.1% — of San Diego County residents who are fully vaccinated received a booster shot, according to the agency.

More than 2.93 million — or 93.2 percent — of San Diego County residents ages 5 and older are at least partially vaccinated and more than 2.58 million, or 82 percent, are fully vaccinated.