TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced that as of Feb. 1, COVID-19 contact outreach and monitoring, otherwise known as contact tracing, operations will be discontinued at KDHE.
KDHE contact tracing staff will be reassigned to contact investigations.
County Local Health Departments have already begun to wind down contact tracing and K-12 schools who were participating in contact tracing as part of the Test to Stay program may temporarily suspend contact tracing as well. Contact tracing is when Public Health notifies close contacts to let them know that they were exposed to infectious disease and tells them about the signs and symptoms to watch out for. Participation in contact tracing has always been voluntary. The decision to end contact outreach and monitoring was made due to the surge in the amount of positive COVID-19 cases and the public’s willingness to participate has diminished since the beginning of the pandemic.
“As we enter the third year of this pandemic, public health has to begin to adjust the level of response to help alleviate the strain on the Public Health system,” Janet Stanek, Acting Secretary, said. “The pandemic is far from over, but this step is a move toward managing COVID-19 as an endemic disease. The responsibility of protecting yourself and others belongs to all of us.”
Individuals who are positive for COVID-19 will now be responsible for letting their close contacts know about their potential exposure. Additionally, if the individual with COVID-19 exposed others at high-risk settings such as schools, correctional facilities, long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, daycares and churches, KDHE or the local health department will notify the setting. The setting will be responsible for identifying close contacts and notifying them about the potential exposure.
Individuals who are positive for COVID-19 or a close contact of someone with COVID-19 can find information on what to do here.