VDH announces new contact tracing prioritization plus reduced quarantine guidelines

Posted at 3:17 PM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-07 15:17:06-05

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced Monday new priority contact tracing efforts and reduced quarantine guidelines.

Due to substantial levels of COVID-19 community transmission, VDH says local health departments may need to prioritize contact tracing efforts.

VDH says during this time traditional methods of contact tracing are less effective, which means that some local health departments, as necessary, may not be contacting everyone with COVID-19 infection or close contacts to someone with COVID-19 infection.

Per new guidelines from the CDC, VDH may prioritize follow-up of cases and tracing of close contacts for the following groups:

  • People diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past six days and their household contacts
  • People living or working in or visiting congregate living facilities
  • People involved in known clusters or outbreaks
  • People at increased risk of severe illness

“As cases of COVID-19 increase across the Commonwealth, this change will allow us to deploy resources where they will have the most impact,” said Virginia State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “We urge residents to continue to follow public health guidance on wearing masks and physical distancing, and to notify their circle of friends and family quickly if diagnosed with COVID-19. Also, please answer the phone if a VDH Contact Tracer calls. All these things are helping us in the fight against COVID-19.”

Since May, nearly 2,000 public health professionals have been hired in local health departments to do case investigation and contact tracing.

VDH reminds residents to:

  • Wear a mask
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wash your hands on a regular basis
  • Stay home whenever possible
  • Avoid gatherings outside of your household
  • Download COVIDWISE, the VDH exposure notification app
  • Use the CDC and VDH websites for accurate, reliable, and updated information

If you test positive for COVID-19 or are diagnosed with COVID-19, you need to stay at home, away from others, and self-isolate for at least ten days.

VDH and CDC continue to recommend a quarantine period of 14 days. However, CDC guidance now includes two additional options for how long quarantine should last.

The two additional options for shortened quarantine are for people without symptoms to end quarantine after day 10 without testing, or after day 7 with a negative PCR or negative antigen test performed on or after day 5.

VDH is now adopting this revised quarantine guidance for everyone except healthcare workers or healthcare facilities as CDC health-care experts review. VDH recommends that healthcare personnel and residents and staff in healthcare facilities continue to use a 14-day quarantine.

VDH reminds everyone to always seek medical care if symptoms worsen or become severe. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.