CHICAGO — Local groups are hiring contact tracers as part of the city’s plan to create a team of hundreds of tracers to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, which is overseeing the effort, announced Monday it has picked 31 community-based organizations that will hire contact tracers and supervisors. The coalition has been dubbed the Contact Tracing Corps.
People who are interested in being a contact tracer need only be 18 or older to apply, and applications are available online. The groups are hiring Chicago residents.
Tracers will be paid $20 per hour with benefits, while supervisors will be paid $24 per hour with benefits. Contact tracers might have full- or part-time hours. People with customer service experience are preferred, but that is not required.
The work will create about 600 full- and part-time jobs, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a Monday press conference.
Contact tracers will call people who have tested positive for coronavirus or who have potentially been exposed to the virus. They’ll interview them to find out with whom they have been in contact, provide information on how they can quarantine and stay healthy and connect them to resources if they are sick or need help while self-isolating.
Contact tracing is regularly done by the Chicago Department of Public Health — as well as other health departments — and has been done during the pandemic. But officials wanted a broader effort and a bigger team due to the size of the coronavirus pandemic.
At least 2,916 people have died from coronavirus in Chicago, and there have been 75,156 confirmed cases.
And while the Contact Tracing Corps can help the city slow the spread of COVID-19, the positions will also create jobs for people in the midst of economic struggle — and those jobs could lead to permanent careers in Chicago’s neighborhoods, Lightfoot said.
The mayor and Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said they want to think beyond COVID-19 and imagine opportunities for health care in neighborhoods where there are disparities.
“I hope the big takeaway from today is this is really about a moment of hope,” Lightfoot said. “… I think it’s also a moment where we are creating opportunities for good jobs … with benefits for people in communities that have been hard-hit not just by COVID-19 but by disinvestment for years and years and years.
“… This is about creating a community-based health care corps for the future.”
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