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Chippewa County contact tracing protocols changing as cases surge

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CHIPPEWA COUNTY (WQOW)- As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Chippewa County, health officials are making changes to contact tracing protocols.

Chippewa County Public Health Director Angela Weideman announced Wednesday that county health officials will no longer be contacting all potential contacts of those who contract COVID-19, instead only contacting those who are deemed "high-risk." Those contacts include students and school teachers, those who have visited bars or restaurants, health care workers, day care workers, and all household contacts.

The health department is asking all who test positive to reach out to low-risk contacts on their own.

"We have to prioritize as a health department being able to follow up with our positive cases, and then those high-risk contacts," Weideman said. "We do hope to get to a point of being able to contact all contacts again. We are looking at hiring additional contact tracers to make that possible."

The news comes after a spike in positive tests across the county, with now 260 cases currently active.

Weideman also said today she is concerned about the decreasing availability of hospital beds in the county. According to state DHS, hospitals in northwest Wisconsin are at nearly 75%. Although the data does not reflect numbers from Chippewa County hospitals specifically, Weideman says she is growing concerned both for the lack of beds available, and potential burnout of health care workers who are short-staffed and working with an increasing number of COVID-19 patients.

Evan Hong

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