Chicago officials will allocate $56 million in COVID-19 relief funding to expand contact tracing throughout the city, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced in a coronavirus briefing Tuesday.
The $56 million Request for Proposals seeks organizations to lead a coordination of contact tracing efforts across the city.
The RFP requires a lead agency to allocate 85% of contact tracing funding to at least 30 neighborhood-based organizations located within, or serving residents of, communities in economic hardship in Chicago.
According to Lightfoot, the neighborhood-based organizations are responsible for recruiting, hiring and supporting a workforce of 600 contact tracers, supervisors, and referral coordinators to support an operation that has the capacity to trace 4,500 new contacts per day.
Contact tracers have the list of names with whom an infected individual was in contact, but cannot name the infected individual, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady explained.
The exposed individual will receive proper steps to protect the public, such as self quarantining, according to Arwady. The employee will stay in touch with the contacts to track symptom progression of individuals.
“Contact tracing at the community-level will help us build out our public health infrastructure to reach even more Chicagoans," Arwady said. "This approach provides the opportunity not only to operationalize an important tool in the fight against COVID-19, but also leverage the economic investment sourced from federal COVID relief funding to create thriving wage jobs and address long-standing health inequities caused by unequal economic opportunity and access to education.”
Contact tracers will earn $20 per hour with supervisors earning $24 per hour. CDPH requires that applicants meet these minimum salary requirements and provide full health benefits.
As Pritzker previously announced, a contact tracer will interview those who test positive for COVID-19 and learn about recent contact with family, friends, coworkers, commuters, classmates and others within the prior 48 hours.
If their exposure to any of the individuals is deemed “significant,” those individuals will be notified that they have been exposed to the virus, and will be encouraged to self-isolate for 14 days.
“Knowing if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 gives everyday Illinoisans the ability to keep their families and coworkers and friends safe by helping them seek testing or to self-isolate,” Pritzker said. “It helps us build a public health system that truly supports them if their exposure leads to actual infection.”