The city of Chicago has awarded a grant to Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership and Partners to bolster contact tracing in the face of a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country. This week, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that a $56 million grant would be awarded to Chicago Cook Workforce and it’s partners which include the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, NORC at the University of Chicago, Malcolm X College – one of the City Colleges of Chicago – and Sinai Urban Health Institute.
Here’s what Mayor Lightfoot had to say regarding the grant funding being awarded:
“COVID-19’s outrageously disproportionate impact on Chicago’s most vulnerable communities has demanded that we as a city step up and take swift action to support our fellow residents in need,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “This exciting contact tracing initiative will not only significantly bolster our efforts to stay ahead of this terrible disease, but it will also create new jobs and opportunities for individuals to join in the fight against COVID-19, as well as develop invaluable skills for their own future careers in public health and patient care.
Specifically, this grant will go towards establishing the COVID Contact Tracing Corps and the COVID Resource Coordination Hub, which will hire 600 people to do contact tracing to people all over Chicago. These funds will also be allocated towards 30 different community-based organizations that will go to hire and train people to conduct contact tracing and resource coordinators from within the communities that need this the most.
CDPH Commissioner, Allison Arwady, M.D spoke on the specifics of hiring people from within the communities most devastated by COVID-19, including, African-American and Latinx communities:
“A robust and comprehensive contact tracing program is key to containing the spread of COVID-19 and further driving down the number of new cases,” said CDPH Commissioner, Allison Arwady, M.D. “We insisted that this program not only focus on communities most impacted by the virus but that The Partnership and its sub-delegates hire from these neighborhoods to build the contact tracing corps. In that way, this will not only operationalize an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 but also create thriving wage jobs.
Karin Norington-Reaves CEO of the Partnership also spoke on the importance of hiring from within affected communities:
“In addition to suppressing the transmission of COVID-19, contact tracing can be a doorway to family-sustaining careers in the healthcare field,” said Karin Norrington-Reaves, The Partnership’s Chief Executive Officer. “Along with our partners, we look forward to not only impacting community health but also creating economic opportunity for African-American and Latinx residents most deeply affected by this pandemic.