County COVID-19 outbreak: Updates to contact tracing, isolation and quarantine protocols

County COVID-19 surge

Ministry of Health updates data and encourages vaccination

Announcing updates to contact tracing, isolation and quarantine protocols

MAYVILLE, New York State: – The Chautauqua County Health Department (CCHD) is providing an update on COVID-19 data for the week ending November 20. Chautauqua County is currently experiencing increased rates of COVID-19, including hospitalizations and the highest infection rates among school-aged children to date.

“The Delta strain of the coronavirus is very contagious and especially makes unvaccinated people very, very sick,” said Christine Schuyler, county public health director. “I am saddened and frustrated to see so many people struggling to breathe, hospitalized, on ventilators, and many survivors who have left with long term health impacts. If you are not vaccinated, you are really trying your luck.

The CCHD and the Chautauqua County Board of Health strongly recommend vaccination and booster shots for all eligible people and recommend that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask in indoor public places, wash their hands frequently and to stay home and away from others when sick.

COVID-19 vaccines continue to be very effective in reducing the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death, including against the delta variant. Unvaccinated people continue to account for the vast majority of severe cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. This is why you need to get vaccinated. Scientists are starting to see a reduction in protection against mild and moderate illness, especially in the elderly and those with compromised immunity. This decrease in the effectiveness of the vaccine is at the origin of the recalls. Data shows that immunity in people infected with COVID-19 declines over time and that COVID-19 vaccination can provide a higher, more robust and consistent level of immunity to protect people against COVID-19 than antibodies against the infection alone. This is why those who have had a COVID-19 infection should still be vaccinated 3 months after their infections. Vaccination options, including for children and boosters, are widely available throughout the county. Visit the COVID-19 page at https://chqgov.com/ to find an immunization site near you.

Updating data

As of November 23, 50 people were hospitalized in Chautauqua County hospitals with COVID-19, the majority in the 54 to 64 age range. This does not include residents of Chautauqua County who are hospitalized outside of Chautauqua County, such as in Erie or Warren counties in Pennsylvania or in Erie County, NY According to the NYS HERDS survey, the Maximum number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in hospitals in Chautauqua County was 57 people on January 13, 2021. Our county is approaching that peak this week.

Breeanne Agett, epidemiologist at CCHD, has compiled the county’s weekly dashboard report which can be viewed in full on the COVID-19 page of https://chqgov.com/. As of November 21, 2021, 59.9% of the county’s total population had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine; 53.9% are fully vaccinated. The rates are 68.1% and 62% for those 12 and over; 69.9% and 63.6% for those 18 and over; and 91.7% and 81.2% for those 65 and over, respectively. Of COVID-19 cases reported since August 1, 2021, 56% have not been vaccinated, 22% have unknown vaccination status, 15% are fully vaccinated, and 7% are partially vaccinated. Immunization status is unknown if the interview has not been completed by the time the positive case is followed or if staff are unable to contact the case.

For the week ending November 20, there was an average of 94.7 new cases of COVID-19 reported for Chautauqua County, a case rate of 522.4 new cases per 100,000 people over the seven last days. This figure is more than five times the threshold of “high community transmission” used as a benchmark by the CDC to provide recommendations to the community. The CDC recommends wearing masks in public places regardless of immunization status when communities experience high transmission.

The number of cases is approaching that recorded in January 2021, our highest number to date. With the holidays coming, cases are expected to continue to increase in the coming weeks.

Contacts search

In accordance with CDC guidelines, effective Monday, November 29, 2021, the CCHD will prioritize investigative interviews for cases of people who have tested positive or diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past six (6) days, depending on the date of the test or the onset of symptoms. Contact tracing efforts will focus on family contacts and people living, working, or visiting community living facilities, high density workplaces, schools or other settings or events with potential widespread transmission of COVID. -19. The most common place for infection clusters is someone’s home.

“Contact tracing is part of a containment strategy to stop the spread of COVID-19, but it is one, and only one, layer or intervention to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Schuyler said . “With such a high transmission community, it has become a less effective strategy for identifying and breaking the chains of transmission and we need to prioritize our case investigations.”

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate for 10 days after the onset of symptoms or the date the test was obtained if there are no symptoms. Due to the intense increase in cases, there is a delay between when some people find out they have a positive COVID-19 test result and when the CCHD can call them to explain the isolation and inform their close contacts. Therefore, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should tell their close contacts and family contacts to self-quarantine.

All people should contact their health care provider for medical advice and symptom monitoring if they are diagnosed with COVID-19.

If you are in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, you should quarantine unless you are fully vaccinated and have no symptoms.

The county public health director’s order for quarantine / isolation can be viewed on the COVID-19 page of https://chqgov.com/.

Changing quarantine requirements

As per CDC guidelines and effective Monday, November 29, 2021, residents of Chautauqua County who are in close contact with a person positive for COVID-19 and who are not fully vaccinated may be released from quarantine after seven full days. (i.e. day 8) following the last exposure to COVID-19 under certain conditions:

  • A COVID-19 test with a sample taken and tested on day 5 or later after the last exposure is negative; and,
  • No symptoms are reported during daily monitoring

The quarantine cannot be interrupted until the end of day 7 (i.e. day 8). Acceptable COVID-19 tests include NAAT tests (PCR) or antigen tests. See the document Leaving quarantine with COVID-19 tests.

With this strategy, the CDC estimates that the risk of the infection spreading after quarantine is relatively low, between 5 and 12 percent. People coming out of their forties prematurely are strongly encouraged to continue monitoring symptoms and wearing a mask around others for two weeks after their last date of exposure.

The CCHD has also added two AFFIRMATION documents to its website for individuals to provide to workplaces, schools or for travel who assert their own periods of quarantine or isolation. These forms can be used for isolation or quarantine or for NY COVID-19 paid family leave requests as if it were an individual isolation or quarantine order by the Director of the Department. Chautauqua County Public Health and can be accessed on the COVID-19 page of https: //chqgov.com/. County residents do NOT need to call the Department of Health to be released from quarantine or isolation. They should be prepared to present a negative test result from the 5th day of quarantine or after if a workplace or school requests it.

Positive home COVID-19 test results should be reported to CCHD by calling 716-753-4491 or using the online reporting form available on the COVID-19 page of https://chqgov.com/. People fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are not subject to quarantine until they have no symptoms.

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