As COVID Case Numbers Climb, Contact Tracers Stay Busy

As COVID case numbers continue to rise, contact tracers across the state are busy again.

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The entire state of Connecticut is experiencing either a "substantial" or "high" level of COVID transmission, according to the CDC.

As case numbers continue to rise, contact tracers across the state are getting busy again.

"Very busy," said Mary Day, a public health nurse with Ledge Light Health District. "Phones ringing off the hook, we are getting calls at all hours of the day."

Ledge Light's contact tracing team, which covers nine towns in the New London region, had a slow start to the summer. Case numbers were relatively low from May through July. About two weeks ago, that changed. Case numbers started to climb and the team got busy once again.

"We are seeing outbreaks associated with social gatherings, family reunions, birthday parties," explained Day.

The contact tracers are also seeing cases related to travel and day cares.

In the Norwich region, the Uncas Health District had several days at the beginning of the summer where they had zero cases. Now, they have a case volume that they have not seen since May.

"What we are trying to do, as always in public health, is prevent spread," said Patrick McCormack, director of health for UHD.

McCormack said case numbers vary from day to day. Recently, they are seeing younger people test positive for the virus. The health district is also seeing the virus make its way through households fast.

“Now it seems like the duration of time from the time they were exposed to when they actually don’t feel well and are symptomatic and get tested seems to be shorter," said McCormack. "So what we are finding is it is entire family units that tend to test positive at the same time.”

McCormack said his team uses the contact tracing calls to remind people about the vaccine and how effective it is at preventing severe illness and hospitalization.

The majority of cases in Connecticut right now are among the unvaccinated. Vaccination status does matter if a contact tracer identifies a person as a close contact.

An unvaccinated person who is a close contact will be asked to quarantine for at least 10 days, get tested and wear a mask.

A vaccinated person who is a close contact will not have to quarantine as long as they are not showing symptoms. The person will be asked to get tested 3-5 days after exposure and to continue masking up.

“They are able to return to work, they are able to continue their life and it is much less disruptive," said Day.

Breakthrough cases are rare. As of last week, 0.06% of Connecticut's fully vaccinated population had contracted the virus, according to data from CT DPH.

Contact tracers want to make sure anyone who is experiencing COVID symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, gets tested.

“The main thing to remember always is if you are symptomatic please don’t go to work or school," said McCormack.

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