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August 12, 2020

6/30/2020 7:26:00 AM
Oneida County COVID-19 number tracking procedure clarified
Brian Jopek
Lakeland Times Reporter

One point of confusion that has persisted since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March involves how confirmed cases are counted.

As of Sunday, June 28, Oneida County has had a total of 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Oneida County public health director Linda Conlon was asked last week about tracking people who are visiting this area but are not residents.

For example, if a Chicago area resident gets tested for COVID-19 while visiting the Northwoods, and then they go home with a positive test result, where are those positive COVID-19 test results recorded? Is it in Illinois or in Oneida County?

"It is in Illinois," Conlon said. "The standard for all diseases, doesn't matter what disease, where you got tested, if it was in Wausau, that test would come back to us."

She said the health department would get a response if a person with a second home for the summer tested positive for COVID-19 in, for example, Wausau.

"If they have a second home here and they're staying here for the summer, we have requested from our health care system to put their second home address in (the data base) so we are aware of that," Conlon said. "That's the way disease reporting works across the nation."

Conlon was also asked if there was concern a COVID-19 positive test result would belong to the state someone else is from even if they tested positive for COVID-19 in Oneida County after they'd returned home from visiting this area.

In other words, that result isn't registered with the Oneida County Health Department.

"I think there is always a concern that even if they're not tested here ... I mean, you could have somebody come up and stay for the week and then go home, start feeling ill and get tested," Conlon said. "That person is in our area. So, we definitely have concerns there are more people with COVID up here than what our numbers are showing."

Whether or not the Oneida County Health Department would hear from a health agency in another state regarding someone who'd been in the Lakeland area and ended up testing positive for COVID-19 depends on the other health department's disease investigation protocol, Conlon explained.

"It really depends on how they do their contact investigation," she said. "It also depends on that communication back to us."

She confirmed the Oneida County Health Department does not do contact tracing related to persons who test positive for COVID-19 and return home out of state.

"We don't get that report," she said.

Marta McMillion, the Oneida County Health Department's assistant director, said that procedure has been posted to the "Frequently asked questions" portion of the department's website and was recently reposted on the health department's Facebook page as well.

"We have definitely heard that question," Conlon said.

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at bjopek@lakelandtimes.com.





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