DC terminates COVID-19 contact tracing unit

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More than two years after launching the COVID-19 contact tracing force to help identify people potentially exposed to the coronavirus and slow the spread of the disease, the district is announcing it is ending its operations.

More than two years after launching the COVID-19 contact tracing force to help identify people potentially exposed to the coronavirus and slow the spread of the disease, the district is announcing it is ending its operations.

The city’s contact tracing team officially closed on Thursday, according to a statement to DC Health’s OMCP.



“The COVID-19 Contact Trace Force has been instrumental in helping slow the spread of COVID 19 in the District of Columbia; however, with declining levels of COVID infection and easier access to home testing kits, the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Force is no longer as effective or vital a tool as it was at the height of the crisis. pandemic,” the statement read.

The district’s decision means the layoff of 131 employees, according to The Washington Post, which first reported it Thursday.

Even if the unit closes, the city said its DC CAN digital exposure notification system will remain in place. The digital system sends alerts directly to people’s smartphones if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 who is also participating in the system.

DC Health also said investigators will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 “and provide advisory services to high-risk facilities.”

The move comes as the number of coronavirus cases appears to be falling.

For the week ending June 25, the district had just under 196 cases per 100,000 residents, according to test results from city-run testing sites. That’s down from more than 356 weekly cases per 100,000 population for the week ending May 21, which was a recent peak. At the height of the omicron outbreak last winter, there were more than 866 cases per 100,000 people.

DC Health said the plan to end force tracing was communicated to employees earlier this year and many contact tracers chose to remain in DC government positions, including investigative work. on illnesses involving monkeypox at DC Health.

“We are deeply grateful to all of the DC Health employees who served as part of the tracing force, and we have worked with them to facilitate their next career move,” the statement read.

DC Health said members of the contact tracing team had the opportunity to learn about other opportunities and a job fair.

The district’s contact tracing force launched in the spring of 2020 with 65 members and has grown to several hundred.

The Virginia Department of Health phased out its statewide contact tracing efforts in January, saying the rapid spread of the virus made it impossible to investigate every COVID-19 case and trace all of them. contacts. The health department said it would instead focus its research efforts on settings such as nursing homes.

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