BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Recently, Niagara County saw its total of new COVID-19 cases jump from 900 one week to 2,900 the next.

County Health Commissioner Dan Stapleton said conducting contact tracing and investigations no longer makes sense.

"When you triple your caseload in one week, you can't triple your staff like that. We don't have the resources to be able to do that," Stapleton said.

Niagara County announced Monday it would no longer be doing contact tracing. The announcement actually came a day ahead of Gov. Kathy Hochul's announcement that the state would no longer require the practice.

"We've been thinking about this and preparing for this for weeks now," Stapleton said. "We knew that this had to happen so we didn't have to wait for an announcement to know what we need to do in terms of prioritizing cases."

New York State Association of Counties President and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said while the governor made things official this week, many counties across the state had been scaling back their contact tracing.

"The governor stated what has been the practice over the last several weeks by both the state of New York — they have scaled back contact tracing significantly and now aren't — and most counties have scaled back and some are simply not," Molinaro said.

County leaders said prioritizing resources is one of several reasons for the change. The widespread nature of the omicron variant limits the effectiveness of contact tracing and Molinaro said after two years dealing with the pandemic, counties are expecting individuals to hold themselves responsible.

"People know the things they should do and we're transitioning now to a period of time where the responsibility is going to return to the individual to make a choice to limit their interaction," Molinaro said.

Stapleton said Niagara County is already seeing a difference. Instead of having six or seven per diem nurses working round the clock, last weekend it had two.

"We're putting as many resources as possible into vaccination," he said. "That's really where you get the most bang for your buck if you will. Where you have the most efficient use of your resources is keeping people from getting seriously ill."

He said the county's top priorities are keeping people out of the hospital and children in schools.