Contact tracing becomes more complex


As one season comes to a close, another begins, but one thing remains constant: COVID-19.

“We’re seeing a lot of people who are just kind of done with this,” said Don Lehman, Warren County communications director. ”Emotionally, mentally are just kind of ready, you know, to move on.”

But the work for public health officials around the Capital Region continues.

“We all think it’s important, and I think we’re doing the very best we can. And that’s all we can ask of ourselves,” said Elizabeth Lewis, Albany County epidemiologist.

Contact tracing, a critical component of the fight during the early days of the pandemic, has grown complicated.

“We have a lot of people who have been to so many places, that you can’t really pin down where they might have gotten sick,” said Lehman. “It’s a lot tougher to notify everyone they’ve had contact with because they’re having contact with a lot more people.”

It’s still important work.

“As we head into fall and more people are attending class in person, as people are going back to the workplace, there is the potential for more contacts to be found, for sure,” said Lewis.

Testing is now less uniform than it was last year and is more widely available. People are being tested through work and school, at their doctor’s office or even self-testing at home.

“People are getting these tests and they’re not always reporting them to their physician or public health,” said Lehman. “Depending on the test kit, it has different instructions.”

And with more people getting vaccinated, quarantine protocols have become more circumstantial.

“When we identify who those contacts are, we evaluate them for their vaccine status,” said Lewis. “If you are vaccinated and you’re not having symptoms, you’re not recommended to stay home from work or anything of that nature.”

But you will be advised to wear a mask and be tested three to five days after you’re exposed.

“That’s one of the bonuses of being vaccinated at this point,” said Lehman.



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