On January 21, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced a change in the response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Local health departments will no longer be expected or required to follow up with every reported COVID-19 case. Wisconsin DHS now recommends that local health departments focus on activities that will help prevent severe COVID-19 illness and death.
“The nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted so our response also needs to shift,” said State Health Officer, Paula Tran. “We need to focus efforts on empowering individuals to act when they think they may have COVID-19. People should get tested and immediately isolate away from others to prevent spreading it. They should talk to their healthcare provider about medical treatment if they are at higher risk for severe illness and notify their close contacts of the exposure as soon as possible.”
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are the best way to reduce hospitalizations and deaths. Wisconsin DHS says local health departments should focus on supporting access to testing and vaccine. They should also focus efforts on educating community members about the importance of wearing masks and staying away from others when feeling sick or after being exposed. The guidelines for isolation and quarantine have not changed.
Right now, most COVID-19 cases are due to the Omicron variant. This variant is extremely contagious. The Omicron variant has a shorter time from when you are exposed to when you get sick. This makes it very hard to slow the spread of this illness down. People who test positive should continue to stay home and follow guidelines. People who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive should follow quarantine guidelines. At this time, Barron County Public Health will continue to follow up with high-risk populations.
If you test positive or come in close contact with someone who tests positive, information on what to do can be found on CDC’s website, Wisconsin DHS’s website, or by visiting www.barroncounty.wi.gov. If you still have questions, you can call the Barron County COVID-19 hotline. 715-537-5691 and press 2 for COVID.