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Health department changes COVID-19 investigations strategy

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As the Omicron variant takes hold, priorities will have to be made.

As COVID-19 cases increase in North Dakota due to the Omicron variant, the state health department is making changes to how it conducts its case investigations.

Disease control section chief Kirby Kruger says the department’s goal has been to interview every case reported. But Kruger says changes to its protocols will prioritize cases in K-12 students, college students, people over the age of 55 and people in health care, long term care and other congregate settings. He says thus far, being vaccinated is still the best protection against severe illness and hospitalization. But with Omicron, many other mitigation measures apart from vaccines won’t be enough.

"We want people to be vaccinated; but you look at other mitigations, you know, the case work, case investigations, the isolations and the quarantine, the masking, the social distancing. Those, in and of themselves, none of them are going to be completely effective. The more you can layer those on top of each other, the more you can reduce transmission."

Kruger says the new strategy follows updated CDC guidelines that include reduced isolation periods from 10 days to 5. Ultimately, he says those who test positive need to follow guidance from their health care provider.

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