Dubuque County Board of Health supports suspending COVID-19 contact tracing

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Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 12:03 PM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - The Dubque County Board of Health voted to support a proposal to suspend COVID-19 contact tracing at a meeting on Wednesday.

In a news release, the Dubuque County Public Health Incident Management Team said in its place, it plans to increase promotion of quarantine and isolation guidance and the county COVID-19 hotline (563-556-6200).

The goal of contact tracing is to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. It involves determining who had close contact with a person who has COVID-19 during their infectious period. Those people are then given instructions for quarantine.

Other Iowa Counties, including Linn and Johnson, have already suspended contact tracing due to the increased number of cases that makes it difficult to reach positive individuals.

The team also cited the following reasons:

  • “A delay in information sharing and reporting by state public health with local public health which prevents contact during the first 24-48 hours after diagnosis, the most critical period for spread.
  • An increasing percentage of contact tracing calls to residents by Dubuque County Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) staff that go unanswered.
  • New testing options like rapid at-home tests that are reducing the number of positive cases reported to public health, preventing contact tracing with these individuals.
  • Schools in Dubuque County provide contact tracing to students and staff in conjunction with the IMT, are experiencing similar issues, and support the change.”

County health officials said the seven-day number of new positive cases in the county increased by 329 percent from Dec. 15 to Jan. 19.

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