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(April 1, 2021 5:55 PM) The Jackson County Health Department (JCHD) has announced that due to a significant increase in new positive COVID cases, the department’s capacity to conduct contact tracing has been reached.  Individuals who test positive are being instructed to take action steps to isolate themselves and to notify close contacts to quarantine.

The number of new positive cases reported to the JCHD increased significantly in March, with 1,812 new cases since March 1.  Today, JCHD reported 11,067 cumulative cases in the county since the start of the pandemic.

Recent cases have reported numerous close contacts making contact tracing efforts difficult to sustain. Even with assistance from partner organizations, capacity has been reached. Individuals and their close contacts may not receive a phone call from the Jackson County Health Department or from State of Michigan Case Investigators.

Effective immediately, the Jackson County Health Department has made the decision, based on the overwhelming number of Jackson County cases, to focus efforts on containing potential outbreaks by:

·                 Continuing case investigation and contact tracing in nursing homes, hospitals, and schools, as well as clusters identified as a priority such as in high risk, congregate settings

·                 Assisting businesses with COVID related issues

In the past month, COVID-19 variants have been identified in Jackson County. Some variants spread more easily and make people sicker. Every effort is being made by local and state case investigators to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants. Determining the strain of the virus takes time at the lab, and not every sample is typed, but JCHD says you will be informed if they know you have been exposed to a COVID-19 variant.  If you were exposed, the health department will call and recommend a full 14-day quarantine in order to stop the spread of the COVID-19 variant to others.

JCHD has issued action steps for individuals who test positive and those they are in contact with.  The department requests the cooperation of all to contain and control the spread of COVID-19.

Individuals who have a positive COVID-19 test should do the following:

·                 Isolate for 10 days: Individuals need to isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or 10 days from the day a positive test sample was collected if they don’t have symptoms. After 10 days, if your symptoms have improved, and you are fever-free without the use of medications, it is ok to return to normal activities.  If you are still feeling sick, please consult with a medical professional as some people can be contagious for a longer period.

·                 Notify all of your close contacts and ask that they quarantine: a close contact includes those that you have been within 6 ft. of for more than a total of 15 minutes any day you were contagious which may start two days before symptoms begin.

·                 Close contacts need to self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms.  If they develop symptoms they should get tested. Individuals are considered contagious 2 days before symptom onset, or if asymptomatic (no symptoms), 2 days before they are tested. The Jackson County Health Department recommends individuals quarantine for at least 10 days, as there is less risk of spreading COVID-19 when longer quarantines are maintained.

·                 Fully vaccinated individuals are those where it has been 2 weeks since their 2nd dose of vaccine if they received Moderna or Pfizer, or 2 weeks since receiving a J&J vaccine.  This group does not have to quarantine after a known exposure. If symptoms develop, it is crucial to seek COVID-19 testing and isolate away from others, as there is still a chance that vaccinated individuals can have COVID-19.

Dr. Dennis Chernin, Medical Director of the Jackson County Health Department said, “Recently, cases of COVID-19 have begun to rise again. It is very important to continue to practice social distancing, mask wearing, and avoiding large indoor gatherings.  In this time of increasing cases, contacting everyone quickly is not always possible.  We are asking for people to be ready to take additional actions on their own if they test positive for COVID-19.  Isolating and notifying contacts so they can quarantine for 10-14 days are critical to containing the spread within our community.”

Chernin said he is encouraging Jackson County residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine and should not worry about which vaccine they get.  “One should get the vaccine they have access to as soon as they can. All three vaccines are very safe and are virtually 100% in clinical trials at preventing hospitalizations and deaths, which is the endpoint we care most about, said Chernin.  “Getting a high level of immunity right now protects you and others around you. It also may help to stop the development of new variants and help us reach herd immunity sooner as a society.”

For COVID-19 testing in Jackson County, you can contact the Henry Ford COVID-19 Patient Hotline at (517)205-6100, or the Center for Family Health Hotline at (517)748-5363. Please note, receiving a negative COVID-19 test result after an exposure does not mean that you will not develop symptoms or test positive at a future time within your quarantine period.  You need to complete the quarantine even if you do not develop symptoms.

For information about vaccines in Jackson County, the COVID Vaccine Page will provide more information regarding where clinics are available and how to sign up for a Health Department clinic. Pre-registration for a Health Department clinic is done through the Online Vaccine Interest SurveyVaccinefinder.org is a resource for finding locations, availability, and type of vaccines available near you.

Please visit www.mijackson.org/hd for the COVID-19 information page to find information on the spread of COVID-19 throughout Jackson County. For resources on how to stay safe during the pandemic, visit Michigan.gov/coronavirus and CDC.gov/coronavirus. You can contact the Jackson County Health Department with questions at (517)788-4420, option 9, and leave a message. In case of a medical emergency call 911.

Contact JTV News.  Do you have information or news to share?  Do you have any questions or do you need resources? 

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