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BCPH shifts case investigation, contact tracing efforts

BROWN COUNTY — Brown County Public Health has been doing case investigation and contact tracing on COVID 19 cases and contacts since May of 2020.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the goals of case investigation and contact tracing have remained the same: to contact people who have or were exposed to COVID-19, define and help people who need to isolate themselves to prevent spreading the virus, and educate people on reducing their risk.

Each case that successfully isolates and follows quarantine recommendations can prevent dozens of people from contracting the disease.

Brown County Public Health joined the South Central Case Investigation and Contact Tracing Regional Coordination Center in November of 2020 to receive support in contacting and completing case investigations for those who have tested positive with COVID-19 in our county.

This assistance was valuable for Brown County Public Health’s success in contacting 84% of cases to provide isolation and quarantine information along with obtaining valuable data about where and how to focus public intervention efforts to have the most impact on disease transmission.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will be shifting its level of response to the COVID-19 pandemic to an endemic, surveillance-based response. This will affect the current role of Brown County’s case investigation and contact tracing work.

Case investigators will no longer be contacting each individual case; rather, the county will be focusing investigations on the K-12 and childcare population. The percentage of children infected with COVID-19 is at its highest since the beginning of the pandemic in Brown County. This population is at an increased risk of COVID- 19 infection and providing case investigation may slow transmission in our school buildings.

Each positive case will continue to be reported to the MDH and online case interview surveys will be provided to all cases who can be reached via email or text. The MDH will modify processes to provide information on isolation and quarantine to all cases, along with continuing to provide essential services for those in need.

As BCHP transitions to this model, it is asking the public to follow isolation and quarantine guidelines set out by the Minnesota Department of Health and CDC. We are also continuing to ask positive cases to notify their close contacts with quarantine information.

Isolation

To help with the understanding of isolation and quarantine see below:

• If you have been diagnosed with COVID 19 you are to stay home and away from other people (even members in your household, unless they have tested positive) for at least 10 days. If you have symptoms of or have tested positive for COVID-19, stay home until all three of these things are true: You feel better, your cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms are better, and It has been 10 days since you first felt sick, and you have had no fever for at least 24 hours, without using medicine that lowers fevers.

Your 10 days of isolation starts the day after you started having symptoms or positive test result (if no COVID symptoms) and goes the entire 10 days.

Quarantine

To protect yourself, your family, and your community, you must separate yourself from others, get tested and watch yourself for symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

f you are fully vaccinated and are considered a close contact for COVID-19, you are not required to quarantine unless you develop symptoms. Testing is recommended 3-5 days after the initial exposure and masking in public should be done until you receive a negative test result.

If you are not fully vaccinated, you should quarantine for 14 days after the last close contact with the infected person. Testing should be done if symptomatic or at 3-5 days from the initial exposure.

Should you remain asymptomatic and receive a negative test result, you still need to complete the total 14 days of quarantine due to still being able to spread the virus or become symptomatic, up to 14 days after last exposure. Shortened quarantine options can be considered for unvaccinated close contacts that are not household contacts.

If you have had a positive laboratory test for COVID-19 in the past 3 months, you do not need to quarantine unless you develop symptoms.

Each time you are exposed to an individual with COVID 19 your 14-day quarantine begins again. To better understand Quarantine please go to: https://www.co.brown.mn.us/public-health-home

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