The Miller County Health Department is making some changes to their contact tracing procedures.
According to Administrator Michael Herbert, the county will no longer be directly contacting close contacts of positive Coronavirus cases.
That’s because the case load has skyrocketed, making it extremely challenging for them to keep up with all the calls.
Instead, the health department is encouraging residents who’ve tested positive for COVID 19, to do their own contact tracing and let their friends, families and those who’ve had close contact with them, be informed of the situation.
The County says they will still reach out to those who have tested positive, and will be working to do contact tracing at larger facilities, such as area nursing homes and schools.
More details on what you can do to help can be found below:
COVID-19 Contact Tracing Update in Miller County, Missouri
As COVID-19 rapid testing becomes more accessible and cases increase across the state, most, if not all, health departments struggle to keep up with contact tracing. This is also the case in Miller County. Delay in tracing has resulted from a number of factors:
- it can take several days for a local health department to receive positive results
- not all lab results are received
- not all lab results have the correct personal or contact information
- many people avoid answering the phone or don’t give complete information
Miller County Health Center and other health departments have worked tirelessly to contact each and every positive case as well as all of their close contacts as quickly as possible. However, cases continue to rise, and this strategy has become more challenging. We have modified our approach to contact tracing which will allow positive residents to immediately notify their contacts as soon as they receive positive lab results.
Moving forward, Miller County residents do not need to wait for us to begin notifying people they have exposed. Positive residents should refer to the “COVID-19: What happens after I get tested?” document that can be found on Miller County Health Center’s website and Facebook page. An e-mailed copy can be requested by calling 573-369-2400 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While we will still be completing case investigations for positive cases that are reported, the positive resident will have the responsibility to notify their contacts. This will eliminate the wait time and hopefully, stop people from unknowingly spreading the virus. We are also hopeful that people will feel more comfortable telling their contacts about their positive result versus a stranger on the phone.
Miller County Health Center will continue to assist places where outbreaks are more likely to occur, such as: businesses, schools, and long-term care facilities.
Miller County Health Center will no longer be directly calling close contacts of positive cases. We will focus efforts on case investigations and household contact quarantine.
If you get a call from your doctor with a positive result, you need to take immediate action to slow the spread of the virus within your friends, family and coworkers by following the outlined steps on our “COVID-19: What happens after I get tested?” handout. Please DO NOT wait for a call from the health department to implement your own contact tracing.
You will need to notify everyone with whom you have had close contact with starting two days prior to becoming symptomatic. A close contact is anyone that you were within 6 feet of for more than 15 minutes, regardless of cloth face coverings; or more intimate contact such as hugging, kissing, or contact sports. If you never had symptoms, begin 2 days prior to the day you were tested.
If you had to do this today, how many people would be on your list? Please act now to reduce that number on a daily basis. Keeping your distance from those outside of your household is important in limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Your close contacts need to quarantine for 14 days after the most recent date they were with you. There are some new CDC recommendations to reduce the days from 14 to 10 as long as you remain symptom free. It could be reduced to as less as 7 with a negative test taken five or more days after the exposure to an infected person AND as long as no symptoms develop. Persons who qualify for reduced quarantine must continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and limit contacts until the end of the 14th day.
We are urging everyone to continue to take responsibility for their own health and to protect others. Please reconsider hosting or attending gatherings that bring together people that are outside of your normal interactions, especially if physical distancing cannot be maintained. These activities are high risk for transmission of the virus.
In addition to limiting social gatherings, the Miller County Health Center is still strongly recommending that everyone take these precautionary measures to reduce the spread of the virus.
Stay home if you are sick.
- Adhere to all social distancing recommendations and do not be within six (6) feet of others outside of your household for more than fifteen (15) minutes.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating. If not available, use hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- It is recommended that face coverings be worn when in contact with someone outside of your household within six (6) feet for more than 15 minutes. Cloth face coverings offer some degree of protection for both parties.
Cloth face coverings are not considered an acceptable substitute for social distancing. Interactions within six (6) feet of a positive case for more than fifteen (15) minutes will be considered exposure regardless if either person is wearing a cloth face covering.
Cloth face coverings should be washed after each use. Cloth face coverings should be replaced frequently as consistent washing will degrade the fabric and decrease the effectiveness.
It is important to always remove face coverings correctly and wash your hands after handling or touching a used face covering. For more information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
Testing options are available at every health care provider in the county, some also have rapid testing capabilities. It is recommended that you call first and ask what is necessary to get tested.