Governor: County Health Departments can end contact tracing programs

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As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 sweeps the state, New York is ending its contact tracing program.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced the change in strategy during a press conference with state health commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett on Tuesday.

“Omicron is very contagious. It has a very short incubation period and a lot more people are being tested,” Dr. Bassett said, explaining that local health departments are struggling to keep up with contact tracing, especially in light of the guidelines. isolation shortcuts recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Positive infections will now be self-monitored, officials said, meaning isolating, quarantining and notifying anyone they were in close contact with will no longer involve health services.

“This will help state and local health department staff focus on the areas where we can make the biggest difference: testing and vaccination,” Dr. Bassett said.

Under current state guidelines, those who are not fully vaccinated or fully vaccinated and eligible for a booster but not yet boosted and who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 are required to self-quarantine for five days and wear a mask when around others for an additional five days.

Fully vaccinated and boosted people who are asymptomatic after exposure to COVID-19 do not need to quarantine but should continue to wear a mask around others for 10 days.

As part of the contact tracing program, those who tested positive for COVID-19 received a call from their state or local health department to answer questions about other people they may have been in contact with. . Contact tracers would then call those close contacts with quarantine instructions.

Now that information will be available on new websites slated to launch Wednesday morning, Dr. Bassett said.

All guidelines and forms that an employer may need to submit can be found at ny.gov/isolation and ny.gov/quarantine.

Ms. Hochul said Tuesday that the decision to cease or continue contact tracing will be up to individual counties.

“If they decide to continue they are more than welcome, but it is in response to their request that we have almost 12,000 new cases a day and it is impossible to do contact tracing as they have been doing. in the past,” she said.

Several upstate counties have asked the state to make the switch, and some had already announced plans to end contact tracing. Spokespeople for the Department of Health Services and the County Executive’s Office both said they were awaiting guidance that the governor said would be available on the state’s website Wednesday.

As COVID-19 cases remain high across the state – with 48,686 new cases reported in the past 24 hours – Ms. Hochul said these numbers reflect a “glimmer of hope” and believes the numbers will start to cap.

“It looks like we’re past that peak,” the governor said of the winter surge.

Statewide, there are 12,540 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 945 patients in Suffolk County. Of the 945 patients, 118 are in intensive care, according to data released by the county health services department.


POP-UP VACCINES

The Cutchogue Fire Department will hold a COVID-19 vaccination pod at its Cutchogue Fire Hall at 260 New Suffolk Road. Appointments can be scheduled and walk-ins are also welcome. The first dose of Pfizer will be available for adults and children ages 5 to 11. Booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna will also be available. The module is managed in collaboration with the State Department of Health.

The dates are:

Thursday, January 13: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday, January 14: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, January 15: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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