Public Health Madison & Dane County officials have become increasingly overwhelmed by the recent uptick in coronavirus cases, forcing a switch to a crisis model for contact tracing, officials announced Wednesday. 

A crisis model of contact tracing is adjusted to accommodate more positive cases, according to a statement from the City of Madison. The county reportedly recorded 196 new positive cases on Thursday alone.

The model prioritizes notifying people who test positive for the virus, according to the statement. Due to high rates of positive cases, officials said it is not possible for contact tracers to ensure COVID-19-positive people are quarantining.

Director of PHMDC Janel Heinrich explained the mounting challenges of contact tracing. 

UW announces hybrid course instruction model for spring semesterThe University of Wisconsin will continue the current hybrid model of instruction into the spring semester, the university announced in Read…

“Like all other health departments in the state, we are struggling to keep up with contact tracing,” Heinrich said in the statement. “When we consistently have well over 150 new cases per day, we cannot contact all cases and contacts quickly enough to effectively disrupt the spread of COVID-19.”

Instead of detailed contact tracing, Dane County officials rely on the responsibility of residents to follow COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing, wearing a mask indoors and frequently washing hands.

The outbreak in Dane County aligns with numbers recorded on the University of Wisconsin’s campus. UW struggled with an outbreak of COVID-19 in September, but has managed to bring positive test rates down to around one percent.

UW campus alder continues to push for City Council resolution on Smart Restart changesUW sophomore and District 8 Ald. Max Prestigiacomo continues to push his proposed resolution to amend the university’s COVID-19 plan Read…

Having a lower rate of positive cases allowed UW to adopt a hybrid plan for the spring semester, they said in a news release. Classes under 50 participants will be held in person, while larger lectures will continue to be held online.

Provost Karl Schulz expressed his belief in the value of maintaining in person learning on campus in the statement. 

“Many students prefer and many programs rely on aspects of instruction that are most effectively provided in-person and sometimes cannot be replicated remotely,” said Schulz.

Dane County Board urges university to discontinue in-person classesThe Dane County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution Thursday for the University of Wisconsin to move 100% online for Read…

UW plans to ramp up testing procedures in the spring semester in a few different ways. Most importantly, all students and faculty that live on campus or utilize campus space will undergo mandatory bi-weekly testing. Off campus students are not currently required to be tested.