As new COVID-19 case is confirmed, OCHD explains process
By Eileen Persike
Oneida County Health Department (OCHD) received notification June 8 of a thirteenth person with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. The individual is in their 40s and has no known contact with someone who has previously tested positive, and no history of travel outside of the community.
The individual has been self isolated since the onset of symptoms an no significant risks of exposure to the general public related to this person have been identified. Health officials are contacting others with whom this individual has had close contact.
Close, or “significant” contact is considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as 15 minutes or more of close exposure. On the OCHD Facebook page is an explanation of how the department is conducting contact tracing.
“With the increased movement of people at this time, OCHD will share more information about the public places people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have been during their time of communicability if the time there could have result in a SIGNIFICANT exposure for others,” the post reads. “It may be up to the community to identify if they should be tested based on if they have been to the same places as the person who tested positive on the same dates.”
Oneida County Health Department Director Linda Conlon explained the department’s process.
“Our policy is to ask questions,” Conlon said. “One of those is, ‘are you able to connect with your significant contacts?’ When you are in a Walmart or Home Depot, you don’t usually spend 15 minutes with people you don’t know. When you are in a restaurant or bar, sitting by people you don’t know, it’s probably for more than 15 minutes, and that’s significant exposure and you can’t identify them,” which is when businesses visited by people with COVID-19 may be made public.
Conlon said they are doing what public health departments do, and have done many times in the past with food-borne illness, hepatitis, norovirus, pertussis and others.
“We do have a policy in place – we’re not just making decisions on the fly,” she said. “We’re following the steps and doing it right.”
As a reminder, OCHD director Linda Conlon said people should continue to:
- Frequently and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Avoid touching your face
- Stay home when sick
- Practice physical/social distancing
- Avoid large gatherings and crowds
- Utilize cloth face coverings when physical/social distancing is difficult to do
People with confirmed infections have a range of symptoms, from little to no symptoms to people being severely sick and dying.
Symptoms may include: Fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, fatigue, body or muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of smell, loss of taste.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please contact your medical provider to be tested.