Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the Cook County Department of Public Health announced this month that CCDPH will be receiving almost $41 million in grant funding from the Illinois Department of Public Health to rapidly scale-up its COVID-19 contact tracing program in suburban Cook County over the next three to six months.
The funding will allow CCDPH to focus on communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
“This is a win for Cook County,” said President Preckwinkle. “What we have seen with this pandemic is another reminder that until we address the structural issues Black and brown communities face, they will continue to be disproportionately impacted. I am committed to addressing all of the drivers in our communities that contribute to such inequities, and this funding will certainly help.”
Public health departments routinely reach out to the contacts of positive cases when investigating communicable disease outbreaks to let them know they have been exposed to a disease and to provide instructions and monitoring to keep it from spreading to others. This grant will allow CCDPH to scale its contact tracing program and staffing commensurate with the numbers of cases in suburban Cook County.
“Contact tracing is crucial to preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, CCDPH Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer. “We currently have about 25 contact tracers working on COVID-19. Expanding our workforce to 400 people will enable CCDPH to reach up to 90% of case contacts within 24 hours.”
CCDPH intends to earmark as much as 20%, or $8 million, of the grant funding for community-based organizations located within, or primarily serving residents of, communities of high economic hardship, discrimination and racism. The funding will be used to conduct effective public health education and outreach; provide enhanced COVID19 case management and referrals for resources; and address other social and economic impacts, such as housing instability and lack of food. For more information, visit: https://www.cookcountypublichealth.org/communicable-diseases/covid-19/contact-tracing/.