In an effort to safely reopen Illinois, Governor JB Pritzker announced the Illinois Contact tracing Collaborative. It is a locally-driven approach to scale up contact tracing in Illinois. Pritzker said, “We want to grow our voluntary contact tracing so we can further control and reduce the rate of spread of COVID-19.”
Illinois is currently having the best testing availability at the national level. Pritzker said that the volunteer contact tracing would help to stop outbreaks in their tracks. He added, “It helps us build a public health system that truly supports the families if their exposure leads to actual infection.” The Illinoisans can make their families, friends, and co-workers safe if they know that they have exposed to someone with COVID-19.
St. Clair County in the Metro East region and Lake County in the Northeast region, two local health departments, have been assigned by the state to pilot this initiative. The state chose these two departments on the base of their robust capacity for tracing, case numbers in a vulnerable population, and existing collaboration between health officials, students, and volunteers.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) sent assessments to 97 local health departments of Illinois related to their ability to contact tracing. More than half of these departments have already sent back the assessments. The IDPH begins to send out asks related to the budget and work plan to these departments.
According to state officials, the IDPH will drive the curriculum, software, and technology throughout the state. The department will hire necessary workers at local health departments by using the funds from the federal CARES and Disaster Relief Act programs. According to the experts, the approach is based on the technology, and it will improve and innovate the existing health system. All local health departments will be able to work on a single platform through this software.