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Chicago Is Recruiting 600 Contact Tracers To Battle COVID-19 Spread

Colby Smith Colby Smith

Chicago Is Recruiting 600 Contact Tracers To Battle COVID-19 Spread

The city has created a “whole new class of jobs that didn’t exist before.”

In efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, as well as how to minimize like viral infections, the City of Chicago is hiring 600 contact tracers.

Mayor Lightfoot announced on Tuesday that her administration would be putting for $56 million — part of the Centers for Disease Control and Illinois Department of Public Health’s relief funding — to 30 city-designated neighborhood groups in charge of recruiting, training, and hiring 600 contact tracers, referral coordinators, and supervisors.

This new workforce would ideally be able to trace 4,500 contacts a day.

Contract tracing is the process of deliberating with people who’ve been confirmed to have the coronavirus. From these discussions, contact tracers would be able to gleam information about with whom the patient had been in recent contact. Subsequently, the contact tracers would be in charge of tracking down those people, debriefing them on the possible symptoms of COVID-19, and them guiding on how to go about isolating themselves.

No prior training is necessary. Contract tracers would earn $20 an hour plus benefits, while supervisors would earn $24 hourly. The jobs themselves would last for a period of 18 months, however, Lightfoot states that the training would enable contact tracers the opportunity for more long-term employment.

“We want this to be a career path,” Lightfoot said.

“Our work to expand our contact tracing workforce will also empower these same individuals to apply their new skills towards long-term career opportunities in our health care economy and strengthen ability to become the inclusive, equitable city we all know we can be,” said the mayor.

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Lightfoot aims to designate the neighborhood groups — in control over this hiring process — that have been afflicted by health disparities and unemployment, or otherwise:

“parts of the city where more people have the kinds of jobs that might take longer to come back,” said Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

“Contact tracing at the community level will help us build out our public health infrastructure to reach even more Chicagoans. 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.”

The city hopes to have the first wave of recruits trained and ready by August.

[Featured image: @katetrifo via Unsplash]