TOPEKA (KSNT) — The Kansas Department of Health will no longer conduct contact outreach and monitoring starting Feb. 1, 2022.

“As we enter the third year of this pandemic, public health has to begin to adjust the level of response to help alleviate the strain on the Public Health system,” Janet Stanek, acting secretary, said.

KDHE said that contract tracing staff will be reassigned to contact investigations.

The department said county health departments in the state are already slowing down their contact tracing efforts and K-12 schools participating in contact tracing may suspend operations as well.

“The pandemic is far from over, but this step is a move toward managing COVID-19 as an endemic disease,” Stanek said. “The responsibility of protecting yourself and others belongs to all of us.”

A person who tests positive for COVID-19 will now have the responsibility of notifying their close contacts. If the person exposed others at high-risk settings, KDHE or the local health department will contact the setting. As the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, KDHE recommends that people get vaccinated and boosted, wear masks, get tested and stay home if exposed or if they are sick.

KDHE shared the following advice with Kansans to protect against COVID-19 and the omicron variant:

  • Get vaccinated and boosted. Vaccines remain the best tool to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging. The authorized COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations, and death. The COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized in the United States are expected to protect against serious illness, hospitalizations, and death in people infected with the Omicron variant, especially those who have received a booster. COVID-19 vaccines are now authorized for people ages 5 and over. Moderately or severely immunocompromised people ages 5 and over should receive an additional primary dose of vaccine 28 days after their second shot. The COVID-19 booster shots are authorized for all people ages 12 and over. To find a vaccine near you, visit Vaccines.gov
  • Wear a mask. Masks offer protection against all variants. It is recommended that people in Kansas wear the most protective mask that fits well and can be worn consistently  in public indoor settings, where COVID-19 transmission remains high, regardless of vaccination status. For more information, visit the CDC website, Types of Masks and Respirators.   
  • Get tested. If you are sick or have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, it is recommended that you get tested for COVID-19. Go to KnowBeforeYouGoKS.com to find a free testing location near you. If a positive result is received through an at-home test, isolate at home for at least 5 full days. If you took an at-home test and need Public Health to issue a letter stating that you are positive, you will need to follow up with a health care provider for a confirmation test.
  • Stay home if exposed. If you are exposed to COVID-19 and you are not up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, you should stay home and away from other people for 5 full days after your last contact with the person who has COVID-19. Anyone who is exposed, including those who are up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters and those who had COVID-19 within the last 90 days, should wear a well-fitted mask for 10 full days any time you are around others inside your home or in public and watch for symptoms for 10 full days. Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask, avoid travel, and avoid people at high risk for developing severe disease. Get tested for COVID-19 at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19, or get tested immediately if you develop symptoms.
  • Stay home if sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive, you should stay home and isolate away from other people for at least 5 full days. You can end home isolation after 5 full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your symptoms are improving. If you did not have symptoms, end home isolation 5 days after your positive test. Severely ill people should isolate for at least 10 days. Take precautions for 10 days including wearing a well-fitted mask for 10 full days any time you are around others. Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask, avoid travel, and avoid people at high risk for developing severe disease.
  • Social distance and practice good hand hygiene. People should avoid large gatherings and stay at least 6 feet from others in public settings, especially if they are at higher risk of getting sick.  Wash your hands often with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.