The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) has successfully resolved the backlog of notifications for over 800 North Dakotans who tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier in the week, the department addressed the backlog which was due to a recent sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and announced changes to the state’s contact tracing process to more quickly notify individuals who test positive for COVID-19.
“We appreciate the patience of North Dakotans and are grateful for the expertise and hard work of our case investigation team,” said Disease Control Director Kirby Kruger. “Case investigation and contact tracing are two tools, but what allows them to be effective is the active participation of individuals and communities in taking steps to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The NDDoH anticipates the change in the contact tracing process to be temporary and said they will be evaluating the effectiveness and resource need over the next several weeks and months.
As part of the new process, close contacts will no longer be contacted by public health officials; instead, positive individuals will be instructed to self-notify their close contacts. Individuals can visit the NDDoH website, where resources explain the recommended and required actions for both positive patients and close contacts.
Contact tracing for health care settings, K-12 schools and university systems is an exception and contact tracing will continue as usual.
The state is testing the process to deliver automated notifications to positive individuals. Currently, the system only delivers automated notifications to individuals with negative test results. Positive patients will still receive a follow-up call from a case investigator after their initial automated notification.