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State health officials shifting efforts away from individual contact tracing

NIOSH-approved N95 masks are recommended to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 omicron variant.
Jennifer Swanson/NPR
NIOSH-approved N95 masks are recommended to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 omicron variant.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is shifting its efforts away from individual contact tracing.

As cases of COVID-19 continue to trend upward, officials at the state health department say they can no longer focus on contact tracing on an individual basis.

A statement from MDHHS notes many people who are contacted to alert them of a possible exposure do not respond.

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail says individual contact tracing with case rates this high is not realistic, especially when people can be contagious without showing symptoms.

“They don't know that they were exposed, and so there's no way for them to be contacted, that they were exposed, meanwhile, they're exposing more people," Vail said. “When you have this much transmission, you know, identifying every case, identifying every contact every case, and having all of those people either quarantined or isolated, is just, it’s just not realistic.”

Instead, the state health department will focus on tracking outbreaks among vulnerable populations like those in nursing homes and schools.

There are also plans for a public education campaign on what to do in the case of COVID exposure. The MDHHS recommends those who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate and let their close contacts know they might have been exposed.