Oneida County health asks businesses to help with contact tracing
Conlon says working together to fight the virus will keep the economy strong
Star Journal Report
The Oneida County Health Department (OCHD) is teaming with local chambers of commerce to increase COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow, the health department is asking businesses where patrons may have prolonged exposure to employees and one another – such as restaurants and bars – to collect at least one name and phone number per customer party. If a case is diagnosed, those names and numbers could help identify individuals who may have been exposed, thereby limiting the spread.
“Our chambers have strong relationships with our county businesses and are able to get this process started quickly,” said Linda Conlon, Oneida County Health Department Director and Health Officer. “We know our business owners want to keep the community safe, so we look forward to working together to help fight this virus and keep our local economy strong.”
Chamber offices will assist businesses to implement the contact tracing requests, but businesses are also welcome to contact the health department with questions or to discuss ways to reduce the risk of transmission at their business.
“This one small effort by businesses helps us immensely,” said Conlon. “The more easily we can get into contact with people who may have been exposed, the faster we can shut down the spread from that encounter. In the long run, it not only protects our residents and visitors, but also the economy here in the Northwoods, because our businesses can continue to operate successfully.”
New web page
Additionally, the health department has launched a dedicated web page that will notify the public of locations where they may have come into close contact with the virus. Visit publichealth.co.oneida.wi.us.
That site includes locations categorized as low and high risk. Those risks are determined based on the chance you came into contact with the virus and the ability of the health department to identify and notify potential contacts. Businesses that participate in collecting patron information would be listed in the low risk category in the event of an exposure.
OCHD will work together with places identified as high risk before they are added to the list to provide guidance about reducing future risk to staff and customers. The department will make two attempts to contact and then leave a voice message prior to adding the business to the Outbreak and Investigations page. For low risk businesses, OCHD will only post to the web page, as all businesses have been given information on appropriate precautions. Current guidance is available on the Onward Oneida County page.
Locations will remain on the list for 14 days after the last known positive case was there. The page will be updated frequently as information becomes available. Those who may have been at a high risk location will be asked to complete a self-screening at wihealthconnect.com.
The health department continues to encourage everyone to stay home as much as possible, practice physical distancing, good hand hygiene, enhanced cleaning practices and utilize cloth face coverings when physical distancing is difficult to do.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive should contact a medical provider to be tested. For more information, visit oneidacountypublichealth.org.