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State, city still lagging on contact tracing program

Wednesday, Jul 1, 2020

* Press release

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced the City has awarded a $56 million grant to Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership), in collaboration with 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, to carry out contact tracing services in Chicago, with an effort based in communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These organizations will lead a health-equity based approach to further contain the spread of COVID-19, which will include disbursing 85% of the total grant funding to community organizations in areas of high economic hardship to train and certify a 600-person workforce that will support contact tracing. The 600 newly created jobs will be hired directly from the communities of high economic hardship that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19. […]

As part of the grant, The Partnership will be conducting a second competitive bidding process to award the majority of the funding to at least 30 community-based organizations that will recruit and hire the contact tracers and resource coordinators under this grant.

So, they’ve finally awarded the grant money, but now community groups will bid on hiring the workers, which will take time, as will the subsequent hiring process.

* WTTW reports that the governor’s efforts are also coming under fire

(S)tate Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, said after “bragging” about Illinois’ robust contract tracing efforts, the Pritzker administration has “dropped the ball.”

“When the governor made this huge announcement about how there’s going to be investments, we’ve (the Black Caucus) been trying to work with the governor’s office, even to help them with the planning. And you know it’s been real crickets. We have not heard anything from the governor’s office about how they’re going to roll this plan out,” Ford said. “And unfortunately the Black community I think is going to suffer from this.”

Pritzker’s spokeswoman referred WTTW News to the governor’s remarks about contact tracing last Thursday.

“We continue to build up our contact tracing capacities, including new hires that have increased the ranks of contact tracers by 20% since June 1 for a total of 550 active contact tracers across the state. Two hundred-fifty new tracers have been identified and will join their ranks over the few weeks as we continue to scale up our operation, including new technology to multiply their effectiveness,” Pritzker said. “All 97 of Illinois’ local health departments have applied for funding support totaling $230 million to increase contact tracing. That money is on its way out the door with final disbursement coming in the next few weeks.” […]

In a call with reporters on Tuesday, Chicago’s public health director, Dr. Allison Arwady, said the city is currently assigning every case of a Chicago resident testing positive, such that every COVID-19 patient is called by someone from the city within 24 hours.

That wasn’t the case as recently as a couple of weeks ago. Attorney General Kwame Raoul told me yesterday that contact tracers did not reach out to him after he tested positive in mid-June.

* As we discussed yesterday, the Test And Trace website says Illinois has 611 contact tracers and needs 3,113. The folks at the COVID Act Now website say Illinois needs 3,580 contact tracing staff to trace all new cases within 48 hours.

* Related…

* AG Kwame Raoul: Take it from me: COVID-19 is serious

- Posted by Rich Miller        

21 Comments
  1. - Pawar Lost - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 10:35 am:

    Is a deputy governor the point person? Christian Mitchell? State Rep. Ford is right to criticize this failure by the Pritzker Administration.


  2. - Quibbler - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 10:50 am:

    The state unemployment rate is 14.7%, and we can’t find 3,000 people to do this work? This should have been done months ago. Lives have been lost because of this failure.


  3. - Smalls - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:14 am:

    My wife, who has a degree in Public Health and has already taken the online contact tracing class, filled out the online interest form 2 weeks ago for both IDPH and Cook County. She hasn’t heard a word. The system is obviously not working.


  4. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:21 am:

    the large number of asymptotic cases makes contact tracing an impossible task.


  5. - The Real Captain - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:25 am:

    My brother applied to be a downstate contact tracer over a month ago. PHD is government with a focus on health policy (now an unemployed teacher). He has not even gotten a contact back in any form or fashion.


  6. - SSL - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:32 am:

    Contact tracing was always going to be difficult. The nature of the virus makes it even harder. I hope it can be well executed but have doubts.


  7. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:33 am:

    ===and we can’t find===

    You can’t find what you’re not yet looking for.


  8. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:34 am:

    Does Kwame know how or when he contracted the virus?

    I am in regular contact with two medical doctors in my neighborhood. One is a heart surgeon and one works for the VA. Both take the virus very seriously and promote social distancing and mask wearing protocols. However both doctors say that contract tracing outside of “outbreaks” such as in a senior facility, a factory floor or plant, an airplane flight, or a specific social gathering such as a funeral where corona positives probably know the people they were in contact with, is basically useless. None of us know who we may have encountered in a grocery store, a nursery outlet, or a protest march a week or more ago. So while increased testing has importantly and almost immediately identified who must quarantine themselves, it provides little else for contract tracers to focus on. For what it’s worth I don’t think this is well understood.


  9. - Earnest - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:34 am:

    >the large number of asymptotic cases makes contact tracing an impossible task.

    Wouldn’t the opposite be true? It would be a chance to alert people who had been exposed so they could get tested even if they were having no symptoms and reduce the potential of asymptomatic spread.


  10. - Excitable Boy - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:03 pm:

    - makes contact tracing an impossible task. -

    No, it’s precisely what makes it necessary, goofball. You get a symptomatic case and track down contacts so you can identify asymptomatic carriers.

    But I’m sure your “doctor” son can explain it better.


  11. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:42 pm:

    Excitable Boy. No. You are wrong.


  12. - Excitable Boy - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:08 pm:

    - No. You are wrong. -

    Care to elaborate, Einstein?


  13. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:16 pm:

    Excitable Boy. Why is it, when someone disagrees with you, that you resort to name calling? Is that a sign of toughness or weakness? Does it make your position stronger? Asking for a friend.


  14. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:17 pm:

    Blue Dog Dem, your factual position is untenable. Either move on or you’ll be put in “quarantine.” lol


  15. - Excitable Boy - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:22 pm:

    - Why is it, -

    Why is it that when called out for your nonsense you resort to crying like a child. Answer the question.


  16. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:28 pm:

    on a possible good note, the U.S. has purchased Gileads entire 3 month production of Remdesiver. And i am hearing that it is doing a good job on patients that have not entered the ‘critical phase.


  17. - Mama - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 3:31 pm:

    This should be on the TV and Radio:

    AG Kwame Raoul: Take it from me: COVID-19 is serious. Include an interview with him.


  18. - Mama - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 3:34 pm:

    Blue Dog Dem where do you get your information? Can you share a link with us?


  19. - Mama - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 3:35 pm:

    What about contact tracers for downstate?


  20. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 6:37 pm:

    mama. I am old and can’t figure how to copy a link. On June 21, the NY times reported that NY only had 42% contact. California, Texas and Florida are woefully behind in their contact tracers. Same with Illinois.

    From my personal experience. 7 couples visited Austin Texas. All 7 couples live in South Central Illinois. 5 days after returning, one women felt a bit feverish and went to an urgent care. Tested covid positive. The remaining 13 incrementLy were tested, and all came back positive. To date. Only one has been contacted by their locally shared health dept.


  21. - Excitable Boy - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 8:07 pm:

    - Only one has been contacted by their locally shared health dept. -

    Yeah genius, that’s why we need more tracers. Do your lips move when you read?


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