Health Department shifts focus from COVID contact tracing to case investigation, education

Amid a surge of COVID-19 across the county and state, the Reno County Health Department announced Friday afternoon that it was changing its “contract tracing” procedures to reduce tracing and provide more education.

Case investigators will still contact those who test positive and help them identify possible close contacts, and they can also help notify the school or workplace of the exposure.

But individuals will now be responsible for notifying all close contacts such as colleagues, friends and family of possible exposure.

The change, officials said, follows a similar move by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

If sick, stay home

Authorities are also asking those who feel sick, whether they have been tested for the virus or not, to stay home.

“People who are mildly ill don’t need to see a doctor right away,” said Laurie Moody, communications specialist for Reno County, Health Department. “Rest, stay hydrated and monitor your symptoms carefully.”

Common symptoms of COVID include fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory symptoms, and muscle aches.

“Testing is rare, so if you have symptoms, assume it’s COVID and stay home for five days,” Moody said. “If you need to be tested, check with local vendors such as Walgreens, the Medicine Shoppe or online at www.knowbeforeyougoKS.com.”

The health department and hospital emergency room do not offer COVID tests.

However, if someone is seriously ill or at high risk of complications, they should see a doctor.

“Older adults and people of any age with conditions such as lung disease, obesity, heart disease or diabetes are at higher risk of developing more serious complications from COVID-19 and should seek medical care immediately if they show symptoms.”

If you are COVID positive:

Regardless of their vaccination status, they must stay home for at least five days.

If they have no symptoms or symptoms disappear after five days, they can leave your home but must continue to wear a mask around others for another five days.

“If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever is gone for at least 24 hours without fever medication.

If you are a close contact:

If you have completed the first round of COVID vaccines and received the booster or if you have had a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 90 days:

  • Isolation is not mandatory, but wear a mask around others for 10 days.
  • Test on the fifth day, if possible.
  • If you develop symptoms, get tested and stay home.

If vaccinated but noted boosted, or if not vaccinated:

  • Stay home for five days. After that, continue wearing a mask around others for another five days.
  • If you cannot quarantine yourself, you must wear a mask for 10 days.
  • Test on day 5, if possible.
  • If you develop symptoms, get tested and stay home.

Available vaccines

The Health Department still administers vaccines during business hours.

Visits without an appointment are accepted for people aged 12 and over. Appointments are mandatory for children 5 to 11 years old. Call 620-694-2900 and select option 6 for scheduling.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is no longer available from the Department of Health.

The opening hours of the health service are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 7.30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

To get to one of the vaccination sites, call RCAT at 620-694-2913.