The Virginia Department of Health is drastically altering its approach to contact tracing.
On Monday afternoon, VDH announced that rather than investigate every COVID-19 case and trace all contacts, the department will now focus on the follow-up to outbreaks and cases in high-risk settings, such as long-term care facilities and health care settings.
One of the reasons given for this change is the prevalence of the omicron variant of COVID-19.
“Omicron is now the most common COVID-19 variant and is spreading so quickly, it is not possible or fruitful to track every case. Thanks to effective COVID-19 vaccines, most people getting infected with Omicron have mild illness. However, Omicron is causing a very high number of cases, and due to the sheer number of cases is straining Virginia’s health care system,” according to the news release from VDH announcing this change.
Since September 2020, public health staff in Virginia have completed over 750,000 case investigations, notified over 400,000 close contacts, and responded to over 6,500 outbreaks, according to VDH.
VDH said that it will continue to partner with K-12 schools on prevention strategies to reduce spread in schools so schools can remain open and safe.