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Health officials give update after discontinuing contact tracing

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 6:25 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Contact tracing for COVID-19 cases is just one tool officials have been using to track the spread of the virus since the pandemic began nearly two years ago. Linn and Johnson County stopped contract tracing more than two weeks ago because of the surge in omicron cases.

Jarvis emphasizes the importance of continuing to use the layered approached when it comes to limiting the spread of COVID-19.

While contact tracing was one of those layers, staying home when you’re sick, getting your vaccine and booster and masking up are all other layers you can continue to use.

While they’re no longer contact tracing, Community Health Manager for Johnson County Public Heath Sam Jarvis said if you test positive for COVID, or think you may have been exposed, their contact tracing team is now providing extra assistance to help answer any questions you may have.

Jarvis added with the spike in cases and now more at home testing, they just weren’t able to keep up with contact tracing.

”With the increased capacity of free at home rapid tests or rapid tests in general, that are not reported, we would likely begin to lose insight into what community transmission would really be. And so, likely that would have an impact on contact tracing as well,” said Jarvis.

Leaders with UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s said they are seeing a steady number of COVID patients coming in.

“The good news is it’s been steady for the past couple of weeks where the cases in the county are going up. So, this may be confirming in our own little world here that omicron variant does not cause the hospitalizations that delta did,” said Dr. Dustin Arnold, UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s Chief Medical Officer.

The high transmissibility of Omicron is causing some staff shortages at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, which has affected some hospital functions.

“In the hospital we have core functions that we have to do to take care of patients. And some things can be putt off or delayed. And that’s what we’re doing. Internally we have to have critical care capacity. We have to have medical surgery beds available for people that need them right away,” said Dr. Tony Myers, Vice President of System Quality Risk and Medical Affairs at Mercy Medical Center.

Both Saint Luke’s and Mercy have halted non-essential surgeries since mid-December. With the strain on hospitals they’re unsure when those procedures can resume.

And if you have COVID-19 - you do not need to wait 90 days to get your vaccine... that goes for boosters, too.

Doctor Myers and Doctor Arnold both said once you feel better, you can get your shot. The same is true with getting a flu shot or other vaccines.

“Very early on there was that recommendation and there were recommendation that you shouldn’t get it around getting another vaccine. That you should wait a couple weeks in between them. Those had to due with uncertainty about how effective it would be. But clearly now we know that as soon as you get better, what I tell my patients are feel better, wait a week, get it,” said Dr. Myers.

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