With delays in contact tracing, health director urges people to self quarantine if covid exposure

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 December 2020 at 11:42 am

The public health director in Orleans and Genesee counties acknowledged a delay in contact tracing due to an overwhelming caseload for the state’s contact tracers.

Paul Pettit, the public health director for the two counties, urged those who are close contacts with people who test positive to begin self quarantining right away, and not wait to be reached by contact tracers.

The state’s tracers aren’t connecting with people often until four or six days after they have been identified as close contacts, Pettit said this morning on a Zoom conference call with reporters.

The local public health departments in Orleans and Genesee will do the initial case investigations to determine close contacts. They then hand off the contact tracing to the state.

But the state has been overwhelmed with surging caseloads locally, regionally and state-wide, Pettit said.

The local health department staff were doing the case investigations and contact tracing when there were only a few new cases each day.

But the cases have gone up dramatically recently. In Orleans County, there are 719 new cases so far in December, an average of 24 new cases a day. There were 623 cases the first nine months of the pandemic in Orleans.

In Genesee, there have been 1,420 new cases so far in December, an average of 47 new cases a day. There were 954 cases in Genesee the first nine months of the pandemic.

Pettit stressed for people to self isolate if they have been identified as a close contact. If they don’t have symptoms for 10 days, they can end the quarantine.

“The message I want to put out there is to start quarantining,” Pettit said.