RICHMOND, Va.- Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced because of substantial levels of COVID-19 community transmission, local health departments may need to prioritize  contact tracing efforts for key elements of the population.

During this time of significantly high case volume,  traditional methods of contact tracing are less effective.

This means that some local health departments, as necessary, may not be contacting everyone with COVID-19 infection or close contacts to someone with COVID-19 infection.

Per new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), VDH may prioritize follow-up of cases and tracing of close contacts for the following groups:

  • People diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past six days and their household contacts
  • People living or working in or visiting congregate living facilities
  • People involved in known clusters or outbreaks
  • People at increased risk of severe illness

Case investigation and contact tracing are an essential and impactful part of the COVID-19 response in Virginia, and nearly 2,000 public health professionals have been hired since May 2020 in local health departments to do this work.

During times like these, everyone must be proactive in following public health recommendations that include:

  • Wear a mask
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wash your hands on a regular basis
  • Stay home whenever possible
  • Avoid gatherings outside of your household
  • Download COVIDWISE, the VDH exposure notification app
  • Use the CDC and VDH websites for accurate, reliable, and updated information

VDH and CDC continue to recommend a quarantine period of 14 days.

However, CDC  guidance now includes two additional options for how long quarantine should last.

The safest option is still to quarantine for 14 days after last exposure.

Any quarantine shorter than 14 days balances reduced burden against a small possibility of spreading the virus.

The two additional options for shortened quarantine are for people without symptoms to end quarantine after day 10 without testing, or after day 7 with a negative PCR or negative antigen test performed on or after day 5.

It is still important to watch for symptoms of COVID-19 until 14 days after exposure and to take other prevention measures including wearing a mask, distancing, and frequent hand washing.

Today, VDH is adopting this revised quarantine guidance for everyone except healthcare workers or healthcare facilities.

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