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JUST IN: Fairfax County will no longer investigate all COVID-19 cases

A worker conducts a COVID-19 test for sick visitor at Fairfax County Government Center site (courtesy Fairfax County Health Department)

The Fairfax County Health Department will stop investigating every COVID-19 case to identify close contacts who may have been exposed to the disease.

County staff will instead focus their contact-tracing efforts on outbreaks and cases in high-risk settings, such as long-term care and healthcare facilities, the department announced today (Wednesday).

The move away from investigations of individual cases extends to schools and childcare facilities. Starting at 5 p.m. Friday (Feb. 4), the FCHD will only investigate outbreaks, defined by the Virginia Department of Health as three or more linked cases.

While health department staff will continue assisting with preventative measures, they will no longer investigate and provide guidance for every individual who tests positive for Covid.

“School Divisions and Private schools may choose to continue contact tracing close contacts, but this is no longer encouraged by recent VDH guidance due to the reasons cited above,” Dr. Robin Wallin, FCHD’s school health division director, said in an emailed statement. “VDH has developed a flowchart for parents to access as well to help them determine if they or their child should isolate or quarantine.

The county has released a toolkit with guidance on what people should do when they test positive. The health department also has a call center at 703-267-3511 that’s available to anyone with questions.

The changes reflect a shift in approach at the state level after VDH announced on Jan. 25 that it will start prioritizing outbreaks in long-term care and other congregate settings, as well as healthcare facilities and other high-risk settings.

Though Covid transmission in Fairfax County has declined over the past couple of weeks, health officials say the omicron variant spreads too quickly for it to still be feasible and effective to investigate every single case.

The county added 624 new cases today and is averaging 620 cases per day for the past week.

The FCHD reiterated that the best way to prevent Covid’s spread for everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated and boosted, in addition to following health protocols, such as wearing a well-fitting face mask and maintaining six feet of social distancing.

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