State Steps Up Contact Tracing Efforts As Delta, And Now Omicron Cases Rise – WHIO TV 7 and WHIO Radio

WASHINGTON, DC – As more states report cases of the Omicron variant, the World Health Organization says contact tracing will be key to containing it.

States have been seeking contacts since the start of the pandemic, but those efforts have had to evolve along the way.

For example, some things like those contact tracing apps from the start of the pandemic are gone because they really weren’t working.

Now, experts say more states are relying on individuals for help in the process.

>> Contact tracing increases in some states as omicron reaches US

The National Academy for State Health Policy is a non-partisan forum that has followed these efforts.

On the basis of their research, States used three main means for tracing contacts: national and local resources, partnership with other agencies or the use of subcontractors.

Executive Director Hemi Tewarson said states are most successful when contact tracers are familiar to communities.

“I think it really depends on the ability of these contact tracers to be persuasive, frankly, and get people to come back to them. That’s the key thing, you have to have a two-way line of communication, ”she said.

This summer, the CDC awarded millions of dollars to states for contact tracing, especially in rural areas.

Around the same time, the delta variant started to increase and states had to adjust these efforts because they couldn’t reach everyone who tested positive.

“Let’s think about how we make sure that where we think there might be a potential outbreak where we think there is a higher risk, collective care facilities, schools, etc., we go make sure we focus from the state perspective in contacting track down these people.

As more people use COVID-19 test kits at home, Tewarson said some states now give people clear instructions on tracing contacts within their circle.

“I think we need to have confidence in people that they will want to do the right thing around their families and friends that they have been exposed to if they have had COVID,” Tewarson said.

Some states are also stepping up contact tracing in schools as another tool to keep them open year round.

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