Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, alongside the Chicago Department of Public Health ( CDPH ), announced, on May 26, a plan to expand contact tracing for COVID-19 cases at the community level.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, CDPH has been working to develop the groundwork for a community-focused, citywide contact-tracing operation. This operation includes a Request for Proposals ( RFP ), in which the City has allocated $56 million in COVID-19 relief funding from the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health for community organizations in areas of high economic hardship to train and certify a 600-person workforce to support contact tracing.
The $56 million RFP seeks organizations to apply to lead coordination of contact tracing and resource referral efforts across the city. The RFP mandates that the lead agency will be required to sub-grant 85 percent of contact-tracing funding to at least 30 neighborhood-based organizations located within, or primarily serving residents of, communities of high economic hardship.
"As we ease out of shelter in place, it is more important than ever to implement all proven practices to prevent further spread of the virus," said CDPH Commissioner, Allison Arwady, M.D., in a statement. "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."
In addition to CDPH's own contact tracing efforts, it will partner with organizations who are already diagnosing COVID-19 cases over the next few weeks, such as hospitals and federally qualified health centers, to initiate or expand their contact tracing efforts.
The CDC defines "contact tracing" as a core disease-control measure in which public health staff work with a patient to help that person recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the timeframe while they may have been infectious. Public health staff then warn these exposed individuals ( contacts ) of their potential exposure as rapidly and sensitively as possible. Contacts are encouraged to stay home and maintain social distance from others ( at least six feet ) until 14 days after their last exposure, in case they also become ill.