On January 24, National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) joined the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC), and Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) in a statement in support of state, local, territorial, and tribal health departments transitioning away from universal case investigation and contact tracing at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic to a more strategic approach of outbreak investigations and targeted case investigations. Although universal case investigation and contact tracing was implemented in spring 2020 to slow COVID-19 transmission, much has changed over the past year prompting the need for a revised public health approach. This includes the wide availability of safe and effective vaccines, better understanding of the epidemiology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the emergence of the more infectious Omicron variant.
Although it is no longer optimal for public health to universally investigate and monitor individual COVID-19 cases and their contacts, contact tracing remains a necessary public health tool for interrupting ongoing transmission of COVID-19 and preventing disease in the most vulnerable populations, especially in certain higher risk congregate residential settings (e.g., shelters, correctional facilities, and nursing homes) or in other specific situations, such as outbreak investigations or if warranted based on concerning changes in the clinical or epidemiological characteristics of the virus. Individual jurisdictions may also consider continuing contact tracing in other settings, including schools and child-care centers, depending on local context, priorities, and available resources.
For more information, read the full statement on case investigation/contact tracing, including a list of six key public health strategies for COVID-19 prevention and care.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation’s nearly 3,000 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. For more information about NACCHO, please visit www.naccho.org.