ALLEGAN COUNTY — Health officials in Allegan County are switching to a new form of contact tracing as daily COVID-19 case counts continue to rise in the county, overwhelming contact tracing efforts.
The Allegan County Health Department announced Thursday it would begin using self-reporting forms for anyone who tests positive or has been exposed to COVID-19, instead of calling each positive case to gather case information, effective immediately.
Allegan County residents who test positive or are exposed to known cases of COVID-19 must submit a form online to the health department to give ACHD the information it needs to enter each case in the Michigan Disease Surveillance System.
The switch will make case investigations “simpler and easier for both the public and health department staff” as cases surge in the Allegan County area and health department staff struggle to keep up with the volume of cases.
A news release from ACHD said moving forward the department will prioritize contacting cases involving people in higher risk categories.
The department is also prioritizing case investigations on outbreaks in schools, businesses and in vulnerable populations, including those age 65 or older, especially those with chronic conditions, and those in congregate living situations, such as long-term care facilities.
The department is also prioritizing contacting children age 18 and younger, especially those attending school in person.
“We are at a pivotal moment in this pandemic response,” Allegan County Health Officer Angelique Joynes said. “We need to work together to lessen the impact of this virus on our community and economy, but also minimize the number of deaths related to COVID-19.”
“Everyone has a part to play. Wear your mask, stay 6 feet apart from others, and wash your hands. If you test positive or have been exposed, start isolating or quarantining as quickly as possible and complete the new self-reporting form. The new online forms will help us get you the information needed so you can keep your family members, co-workers, and community members healthy.”
Filling out the health department’s self-reporting form is required in order to receive an isolation or quarantine letter from the health department to provide to an employer.
Those who cannot fill out the online forms are asked to call the ACHD COVID-19 hotline at 269-686-4546.
— Contact reporter Carolyn Muyskens at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @cjmuyskens.