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YNHHS enters COVID-19 “mitigation” phase, revises employee testing guidelines

Yale New Haven Health has moved into a “mitigation” phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, updating guidelines for employee testing and work-related gatherings and reminding people about the importance of social distancing and masks.

“Mitigation” is a strategy public health experts use when an illness becomes so widespread that contact tracing (a process used to identify those who may have had significant exposures) no longer provides value. Since COVID is now widespread, everyone has a degree of risk for exposure, said Richard Martinello, MD, YNHHS medical director of Infection Prevention. During its mitigation phase, YNHHS will limit contact tracing; and only healthcare workers with COVID-19 symptoms, a positive test or a household member who tested positive for COVID will need to isolate or quarantine.

“During the mitigation phase, we focus our efforts on identifying and helping those who have the highest risk of exposures and on preventing outbreaks,” he said.

A chart on the YNHHS COVID-19 resource page lists details of healthcare workers who fall into these categories.

YNHHS has also updated COVID testing guidelines for all employees:

  • Employees who have symptoms or have traveled outside of the state to high-risk areas should self-schedule a COVID-19 test online. These employees do not need to call the YNHHS COVID-19 Call Center.

  • Those without symptoms who might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should talk with their managers about next steps, or call YNHHS' COVID-19 Call Center, 833-275-9644.

YNHHS’ updated guidelines on gatherings align with a state order to limit the size of in-person gatherings. According to a new YNHHS algorithm, also available on the COVID-19 resource page, only “mission-critical” meetings involving YNHHS and Yale Medicine personnel may be held in person. These meetings should be limited to no more than 25 people, with everyone wearing masks and enough space to allow participants to stay at least six feet apart. Updated testing and gathering guidelines and additional information are also on YNHHS’ online COVID-19 resource page.

The recent increase in COVID-19 patients across the health system has prompted YNHHS and Yale New Haven Hospital to go back into a Code D – surge plan. YNHHS is well prepared with PPE and other supplies and continues working to increase testing, said Thomas Balcezak, MD, YNHHS chief clinical officer. A Code D makes it easier for the health system and hospitals to reallocate staff, increase COVID-designated patient care units and make other changes to care for the influx of patients.

As the COVID-19 situation changes, YNHHS will continue to update guidelines and procedures. Visit the COVID-19 resource page for the latest information.