Illinois will soon be hiring contact tracers across the state to interview coronavirus patients and identify and notify people they may have exposed.
The process is crucial to the state's ability to move forward during coronavirus, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday.
"Contact tracing is a long-standing disease control measure, and one that’s been part of our COVID-19 response since its beginning – but as cases reached a massive scale of spread in Illinois and nationally, our existing public health management infrastructure simply could not keep pace with the tens of thousands of contacts resulting from the thousands of positive cases we’ve discovered each week because of our growing testing capability," Pritzker said.
The state is preparing a tech-based approach, with curriculum, software and technology driven being by the Illinois Department of Public Health, which will also help fund new hires to assist regions as they move ahead in the process.
Two health departments in the state will be charged with immediately piloting the program, including St. Clair County in the Metro East region and Lake County in the Northeast Region.
"These local health departments were chosen for having significant needs in terms of case numbers in vulnerable populations, a robust capacity for tracing, and great existing collaborations of public health personnel, medical students and volunteers already on the ground," the governor's office said in a statement.
Still, the program will expand to health departments across the state as well.
According to state health officials, hiring will be done locally, not through IDPH, and salaries will be determined by local health departments "in accordance with salary rates in the region."
But those interested in becoming a contact tracer can fill out an interest form with IDPH, "which will deliver names and resumes to local health departments."