Kalamazoo County overwhelmed by contact tracing workload

The county health department has begun prioritizing some cases in its contact tracing efforts, and pleading with residents to self-isolate if they test positive.

Kalamazoo County’s Department of Health and Community Services (KCHCS) has reached a breaking point in its contact tracing efforts. As cases of COVID-19 surge, the county can’t keep up with contacting everyone a newly infected person may have come into contact with.

Kalamazoo County has seen an unprecedented rise in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. The county reported a record 147 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday and is averaging 119 new cases per day – higher than at any point in the pandemic.

What it means: Kalamazoo health workers will prioritize certain cases for contact tracing in order to efficiently use the limited resources they have available.

KCHCS will get in touch with people in some high-risk groups before others:

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  • Individuals attending K-12 schools and school functions
  • Long-term care facilities (LTCs)
  • High-risk congregate settings
a flyer outlining steps Kalamazoo County residents should take if they test positive for COVID-19

What if you’re not a priority?: The county health department is asking people who test positive for COVID-19 to conduct their own contact tracing.

“Public health cannot do this alone,” said Kalamazoo County Health Officer Jim Rutherford. “We’re asking people to take ownership of their positive status when they receive it and to take the next steps to help us stop the spread.”

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should take the following steps:

  • Isolate for 10 days. This means stay home except if you are in need of medical care.
  • Notify your employer that you have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Notify all of your close contacts so they can quarantine for 14 days from the last date of their contact with you.

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