Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a new statewide contact tracing program being piloted in the state during his daily press conference on Monday. The Illinois Contact Tracing Collaborative is supposed to provide a locally-driven approach to scale up contact tracing to see the spread of COVID-19 across the state. State Epidemiologist Wayne Duffus says that 97 county and local health departments are dealing with overwhelming numbers of cases to follow up on on a weekly basis and the current infrastructure and system of communication needs revised.
Pritzker says the new contact tracing program will follow a Massachusetts model that will help scale up the statewide system. “We can’t get [to a point of fully understanding the spread of the virus] with the current infrastructure alone. What we are building in Illinois is a tech-based approach that innovates and scales up existing systems. Illinois has 97 county and city health departments, and they are the foundational elements of the new Illinois Contact Tracing Collaborative ensuring that this is a locally driven effort. We are scaling up within our local health departments and providing a statewide technology infrastructure to ensure a coordinated operation. That way larger health departments can assist where smaller ones need help, and the state DPH can help coordinate multi-department collaboration.”
The new program will be piloted in St. Clair County in the Metro East and Lake County in the Northeast. IDPH will support the new software technology and new hires with CARES Act and Disaster Relief Act funding provided by the state and federal government. Hires for the expansion of the contact tracing program will take place at the local level and salaries will be determined by local health departments in accordance with salary rates in their specific region. Those interested in becoming a contact tracer can indicate their interest through IDPH, which will deliver names and resumes to local health departments. The interest form can be found on the IDPH website at dph.illinois.gov/COVID19.