SWEETWATER COUNTY — The Sweetwater County COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center held a press briefing on Monday afternoon to clarify quarantine and isolation orders along with testing information from Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.
From June 21 to June 28, there have been 28 new lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sweetwater County, bringing the total to 78 positive cases in the county.
With new cases being discovered, contact tracing efforts by Sweetwater County Public Health (SCPH) are vital in tracking the spread and prevention of the disease.
According to SCPH Intern Public Information Officer Jason Mower, contact tracing has been a “mixed bag” in Sweetwater County, meaning there has been many different forms of how the disease has spread.
As part of contact tracing efforts to limit the spread of the disease, quarantine and isolation orders are given to individuals who may have been exposed to the virus by someone who had tested positive.
SCPH Director Kim Lionberger further clarified the difference between isolation and quarantine orders.
“Isolation orders are for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are probable cases who have been around a lab-confirmed individual and also have symptoms that would be indicative of COVID-19,” Lionberger said.
“Individuals that get quarantine orders are those that get identified as close contacts of the lab-confirmed or probable cases,” she added.
Close contacts are identified as individuals who were within six-feet of a lab-confirmed person for at least 10 minutes.
Those who are given quarantine orders are to stay quarantined for a period of 14 days. If the person tests for COVID-19 and the test comes back negative, that duration of 14 days is not shortened due to the virus’ incubation period of two to 14 days. Lionberger said that there have been instances where close contacts have initially tested negative but later on tested positive.
“That is the reason behind quarantine for 14 days. It’s to get past that incubation period,” Lionberger said.
In addition, all isolation and quarantine orders are requirements and not just recommendations. Although they do not specifically track people on a day-to-day basis, should someone violate their isolation or quarantine order, the county attorney will prosecute those who are known to be breaking orders.
Lionberger also said that one positive about last week’s lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases were that most people who tested positive were already in quarantine.
“We look at those as wins where we have stopped transmission for those individuals,” Lionberger said.
The majority of cases in Sweetwater County have experienced mild symptoms and have been manageable from home.
“We look at it more of an economic burden at this point in time,” Lionberger said.