Waukesha County

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Waukesha County Public Health Adapts Contact Tracing Procedures to Preserve Containment Resources


(Waukesha, WI) – As of October 20, 2020, Waukesha County Public Health has modified its standards of practice within disease investigation, contact notification, and symptom monitoring to be able to meet the current demands on disease containment in a sustainable way.

“Waukesha County Public Health is streamlining its internal processes in order to continue an aggressive public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Waukesha County Health Officer Benjamen Jones. “Our team of 200 contact tracers, disease investigators, and other public health staff is adopting procedures that will allow investigations to be completed in less time.”

Waukesha County’s modifications to the disease investigation process includes:

  • One less phone attempt to contact individuals who test positive before classifying them as unreachable, from three attempts to two attempts. A letter will be mailed to each individual unreachable by phone to notify them of their positive test result.
  • Disease Investigators will focus exclusively on collecting information regarding the household contacts of individuals who test positive for COVID-19.
  • Individuals who tested positive will be instructed on how to notify close contacts outside of their household about their positive COVID-19 diagnosis and the potential exposure.
  • Notification to close contacts of their exposure to a COVID positive individual may not come directly from Waukesha County Public Health. Close contacts may be notified by their school, place of employment, or acquaintances.
  • Anyone who is notified that they have been a close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual, even if the message does not come from Waukesha County Public Health, should immediately follow CDC guidelines for testing and quarantining.
  • Waukesha County Public Health will continue to collect information related to school and workplace COVID-19 exposures and will assist with the process of notifying close contacts.

These modifications were developed in alignment with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ September 15, 2020 memo, “Crisis Standards of Practice for COVID-19 Contact Tracing and Symptom Monitoring,” which provides flexible guidance for local public health departments during times of great strain on public health resources. Disease investigation processes may continue to be modified in the future due to caseload, staffing levels, and prevalence of the virus in the community.

“These new measures are in direct response to current COVID-19 positive cases in Waukesha County and our request to the public to help us contain the virus by taking proactive measures to stop its spread,” said Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow. 

Waukesha County is working in partnership with all local public school districts, with private and parochial schools, and with colleges and universities in the county to engage staff in mitigation efforts and initial contact tracing to ensure a faster response to positive cases. Schools have direct access to Disease Investigators working within the Waukesha County Public Health School Strike Teams. The county has also worked with school boards and superintendents to develop guidelines and a framework that provide flexibility for school districts and schools to meet the distinct needs of their student population and campus footprint. These guidelines are available at: www.waukeshacounty.gov/safeschools

Waukesha County remains committed to the health and wellbeing of the citizens of our county and continues to work diligently to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. More information about Waukesha County’s response to COVID-19 is available at www.waukeshacounty.gov/covid19