Knowledge Crucial to Health Department Contact Tracing
With the use of COVID-19 home test kits on the rise, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. is urging residents to self-report positive results to the county Health Department so that cases can be properly contact traced.
“COVID-19 home test kits are now readily available, convenient and affordable, and with school being back in session, more and more county residents are utilizing them,” Picente said. “While we are glad that people are taking action to ensure the health and safety of our community, it is resulting in many positive test results going unreported. It is imperative that our Health Department know of all positive cases so that the proper isolation and quarantine measures can be put in place through contact tracing.”
Oneida County is requesting that any resident who tests positive with a COVID-19 home test kit reports the positive test result immediately by calling 315-798-5431. Reporting a positive result to the county Health Department will ensure proper support and documentation for work and school absences, and will enable the Health Department to perform case investigation, contact tracing and notification to others who have been exposed. Case investigation and contact tracing requires training and specialized skills and should be handled by the county Health Department and not individuals, schools or workplaces.
Generally, isolation periods are for 10 days, but are dependent on many factors. Contact tracers will investigate the positive person’s case, determine infectious period and release person when they are no longer infectious. If cases are not reported and positive people are making decisions on their own, the potential for continued COVID-19 spread is high.
“With communicable diseases, one of the best defenses is contact tracing,” said Daniel W. Gilmore, Ph.D. MPH, Oneida County Director of Health. “With cases not being reported, contact tracing is incomplete. The Oneida County Health Department is making every effort to stay on top of COVID-19 spread in this community and unreported home test kits are making this more difficult. Cooperation on this matter is vital.”
The New York State Paid Family Leave Law may provide for compensation for leave from work related to COVID-19. Documentation from health departments is often required to support a request for paid family leave. Similarly, schools will request health department documentation for staff or students who are positive for or exposed to COVID-19. The county Health Department can only provide documentation for positive test results that are properly reported and traced and does not typically do so after the fact.
Oneida County is in the process of developing an online self-reporting system for positive home test kit results, but is currently directing all at-home positive test results reports to the county Health Department at 315-798-5431. Positive at-home results should also be reported to a personal physician.