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CHICAGO (WAND) - Governor JB Pritzker announced a collaborative effort to ramp up contact tracing for the state of Illinois. 

The pilot programs will be launched in St. Clair and Lake counties. 

“With Illinois’ daily availability of testing among the best in the nation, we want to grow our voluntary contact tracing so we can further control and reduce the rate of spread of COVID-19 and stop outbreaks in their tracks,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Knowing if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 gives everyday Illinoisans the ability to keep their families and co-workers and friends safe by helping them seek testing or self-isolate, and it helps us build a public health system that truly supports them if their exposure leads to actual infection.”

The two locations chosen to start the pilot program due to 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.

IDPH sent 97 assessments to local health departments to see their capabilities of starting the contact tracing program.  IDPH will be sending out asks for workplans and budgets from all of these departments – allowing Illinois to incorporate their plans into the state’s overall plans and bringing them online in the coming weeks.

Each region will have IDPH software and technology to bring them online in the coming weeks. IDPH will support the funding for new hires needed at each local health department through the federal CARES money and Disaster Relief Act funding. 

The program will be tech-based approach to help the existing systems already in place. Illinois will be implementing a state-of-the-art project management and comprehension tool, to collect and hold all raw information relating to contact tracing for COVID-19 and providing forward-facing relationship management software for deployment throughout the state. 

IDPH has also brought on Partners in Health –a world-renowned organization for building strong community-based health systems. Partners in Health is behind what has become known as the “Massachusetts model” for what scaling up a contact tracing operation looks like. As one of the group’s earliest out-of-state collaborations, Illinois has learned what worked, what didn’t, and what challenges they continue to face as they design a community-based program in Massachusetts. Partners in Health will continue to advise IDPH on the state’s program design and how best to tailor it to all of Illinois’ communities.

Gov. Pritzker said all those who are hired will be local and not through IDPH salaries. Those salaries will be determined by the local health department based on regional salary rates. 

Anyone wishing to apply can find more information here

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