As COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout Wisconsin, Public Health Madison and Dane County has announced it will be switching to a crisis model of contact tracing due to the recent surge in cases.
At a press conference Thursday morning, Kate Austin Stanford, the Director Of Operations at Public Health-Madison and Dane County, said that while residents who test positive will still be notified and instructed to isolate, a contact tracer may not follow up with others who may have been exposed.
“We hope that this is a temporary solution to this rise in cases in the community,” Stanford said.
Normally, contact tracers follow up with people who may have been in contact with an exposed individual and tell them to self-isolate and get tested. Now, those who may have been exposed might not be getting those phone calls, as public health moves to prioritize contacting individuals with a positive result.
While the health department now has at least 180 contact tracers, up from just seven back in February, Stanford says it’s not enough to keep up with the daily infection rates.
“And this severely limits our ability to contact all cases,” Stanford said, and the contacts of those cases quickly enough to disrupt the spread of Covid-19.”
At a press conference this afternoon, Secretary Designee Andrea Palm of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said other counties’ contact tracers are also getting overwhelmed.
“What Dane County announced yesterday and what we’re hearing certainly from other local public health departments is that they cannot keep up with their new daily positive cases as it relates to being able to effectively do contact tracing,” Palm said.
Palm says Covid-19 is spiking across the state. Wisconsin’s death toll has climbed past 1,700, with 68 of 72 counties at very-high covid activity levels, in comparison to just fifteen counties last month.
The Governor’s state fair park field hospital accepted its first patient yesterday, although Secretary Palm reiterated that the hospital was only a safety net.
“We should celebrate every patient that doesn’t come to the alternate care facility,” Palm said.
With Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaching, Governor Evers encouraged residents to try and limit gatherings, saying that his own Thanksgiving will be just him and his wife.
For more info on what to do if you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, got to publichealthmdc.com.