County Health Department faces surge of COVID cases, limits contact tracing



GENESEE COUNTY — As COVID- 19 cases rise across the area, the Genesee County Health Department is now having to narrow the focus of its contact tracing.

At a press conference held on Monday, the health department announced that it will be prioritizing contact tracing for people 65 and older and students who are age 22 and younger. Residents between the ages of 23 to 64 who test positive for COVID-19, along with their close contacts, will not be investigated by the county health department for contact tracing.

Kim Van Slyke, Genesee County’s Director of Nursing, said that the county has reported an average of 264 new COVID-19 cases per day. She said that the influx of cases has put a huge strain on her small staff of nurses and health educators who conduct investigations.

“From the beginning, our numbers have been so high that we don’t have the resources to conduct investigations for everyone,” she said. “At this point, we are prioritizing ages 22 and under, which includes college students, school aged students and younger children, and prioritizing ages 65 and older. That includes our elderly and those who are in nursing homes.”

Van Slyke said that residents between the ages of 23 and 64 who test positive for COVID- 19 will have to conduct their own contact tracing and notify close contacts, family members and their workplaces. They will also have to visit the Centers for Disease Control website (CDC) to see how long they will need to quarantine or isolate.

“We are definitely calling on the community to help control and reel in what’s going on right now,” Van Slyke said.

County health officials are also reminding residents to keep wearing masks, practice social distancing and avoid large indoor gatherings.

To see more resources on contact tracing, visit the Genesee County Health Department’s website at gchd.us, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at michigan.gov/ mdhhs and the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov.