NEWS RELEASE: Rapid increase in Ottawa County’s COVID-19 cases leads to delay in case investigation and contact tracing

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November 6, 2020

Media Contact: Kristina Wieghmink, public information officer I mobile/text 616-510-8523

NEWS RELEASE: Rapid increase in Ottawa County’s COVID-19 cases leads to delay in case investigation and contact tracing

With COVID-19 cases rapidly increasing across Ottawa County and the state, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) has shifted much of its case investigation and contact tracing process to meet the increased demand. As of October 31, 2020, case investigators and contact tracers from the State of Michigan are following up with positive COVID-19 cases and contacts for those who reside in Ottawa County. People who test positive for COVID-19 or have been identified as a close contact to a case should expect a phone call or text message from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The case investigator or contact tracer could be calling from a 616 or other area code but will identify who they are and why they are calling. Caller IDs may also show the number 1-866-80MDHHS (1-866-806-3447) or the name “MI COVID Help”. All case and contact information are protected as confidential to ensure people’s privacy. State and local health departments use the case information to identify and contact individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Information collected for case investigation and contact tracing will not be sold or used for sales or marketing purposes.

Because of the overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases across the state, there may be a delay in contacting someone who tests positive for the virus or has been in close contact to someone who has COVID-19. Please take the call or return messages if someone contacts you about testing positive or possibly being exposed to COVID-19.

“With significantly increasing cases, contacting everyone quickly is not always possible,” said OCDPH Administrative Health Officer Lisa Stefanovsky. “Take action right away if you test positive for COVID-19 by isolating and notifying your close contacts. If you've been exposed to the virus, please quarantine. We ask for you to stay home and away from others. These are critical steps to contain the spread of the virus within our community.”

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"The last two weeks make up just 6% of the weeks since Ottawa County had its first COVID-19 case," said Deputy Health Administrator Marcia Mansaray. "In that time, we've had more than 30% of all our COVID-19 cases. That's more than 2,200 cases--a staggering number."

People need to take personal responsibility and not wait for a public health official to contact them.

If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the start of your symptom(s) or your positive test date if you didn’t have symptoms. Notify your close contacts that they may have been exposed and encourage them to get tested. If someone is awaiting test results, they must stay home until the results are in. A close contact is someone who has been within six feet (about two arms’ length) of an infected person for at least 15 minutes in 24 hours including brief encounters (it does not need to be consecutive minutes) with or without a face covering. Close contacts should quarantine—generally 14 days—since a person can be infectious before showing any symptoms. Isolation and quarantine mean staying home from work, school, gatherings, extracurricular activities and any other public place other than when seeking medical care.

Identifying positive cases and contact tracing are proven methods to help slow the spread of an epidemic of respiratory disease, like COVID-19. Contact tracing helps public health workers find people who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and may be infected with the virus. Some people infected with COVID-19 can infect others, even when they are not showing symptoms of the disease. People who have been exposed to COVID-19 need to monitor themselves for symptoms, get tested and keep from exposing their friends, coworkers and families.

The OCDPH will continue to conduct case investigation and contact tracing in nursing homes, hospitals, schools, priority clusters identified in high-risk congregate settings and assisting businesses with COVID-19 related issues and positive employees.

Learn more about COVID-19


Click for more information about Ottawa County's Response.

Ottawa County COVID-19 testing site information 
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COVID-19 testing is an important tool in helping to understand the scope of community-wide spread and making data-informed decisions on how to best protect the people of Ottawa County. If you have COVID-like symptoms and/or have been in close contact with someone infected with the new coronavirus please get tested and self-quarantine. Contact your primary care provider for any medical needs. 


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