Linn County Public Health Ends COVID-19 Contact Tracing Efforts

Public health officials stop investigating cases as of Friday

Linn County Public Health Ends COVID-19 Contact Tracing Efforts
Linn County Public Health Ends COVID-19 Contact Tracing Efforts

A medical worker praised a resident last May after taking a sample to test for COVID-19 at the Test Iowa site at the Kirkwood Continuing Education Training Center in Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette)

Eric Bradley, Linn County Public Health

CEDAR RAPIDS – Linn County Public Health has ended its COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.

As of Friday, the county’s public health agency will no longer investigate cases and notify individual residents of positive exposure to the coronavirus.

Given the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the community and statewide – which has reached a number of cases and hospitalization rates not seen in more than a year – continuing these efforts will likely not have no impact, said Eric Bradley, deputy director of Linn Departmental Public Health.

Contact tracing is really meant to prevent the spread of disease in a specific area,” Bradley told The Gazette. “Whether or not we continue to trace contacts, it will continue to spread. “

Linn County Public Health had spent about $ 158,963 to hire 40 contact tracers through December 23. Ending the program will help preserve the agency’s resources, Bradley said.

There are currently more than 4,000 active cases of COVID-19 in Linn County, according to public health officials. As of last week, the county’s seven-day total number of cases stood at 1,186 – the highest since late November 2020, according to the Gazette’s analysis of state coronavirus data.

The United States Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has listed all 99 counties in Iowa at the highest level of community transmission of the virus. The state remained in the “red zone” for several weeks.

As of Thursday, there were 64 COVID-19 patients in Linn County hospitals. Statewide, the number of people hospitalized with the virus was 747 on Wednesday, according to the IDPH.

The department is also drawing inspiration from the Iowa Department of Public Health, which ended its routine contact tracing efforts for all individual cases of COVID-19 statewide last August, said Bradley.

State public health officials have adjusted virus surveillance to follow its influenza tracing model, which focuses case investigations on outbreaks in long-term care facilities, outbreaks in schools and infections among other vulnerable populations.

Bradley said the state notified county health departments weeks ago when the omicron variant was detected in his county, but communication recently went down.

Linn County Public Health, among other Iowa County public health departments, has been conducting contact tracing since the virus arrived in the state in March 2020. The county has hired people to contact residents. tested positive in order to identify other people who may have come into contact. with them.

While that effort is over, the message from public health officials is still the same as it was a year and a half ago, Bradley said. Linn County public health officials are encouraging anyone who has not been fully immunized to make an appointment or receive a booster if they qualify.

Individuals should also wear indoor masks and social distancing when possible.

The coronavirus “is here, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon,” Bradley said.

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