May 18, 2020
Governor J.B. Pritzker announced today the Illinois Contact Tracing Collaborative, a locally-driven approach to scale up contact tracing in Illinois to ensure Illinois can safely reopen. The state is immediately engaging two local health departments to pilot this initiative: St. Clair County in the Metro East region and Lake County in the Northeast region. The Governor said these local health departments were chosen for having significant needs in terms of case numbers in vulnerable populations, a robust capacity for tracing, and great existing collaborations of public health personnel, medical students and volunteers already on the ground.
Additionally, Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) sent assessments to the state's 97 local health departments with half already sending back their initial assessments regarding their ability to expand and deploy their contact tracing capabilities. Beginning today, IDPH will be sending out asks for work plans and budgets from all of these departments - allowing Illinois to incorporate their plans into the state's overall plans and bringing them online in the coming weeks.
IDPH has also brought on Partners in Health -a world-renowned organization for building strong community-based health systems. Partners in Health is behind what has become known as the "Massachusetts model" for what scaling up a contact tracing operation looks like. As one of the group's earliest out-of-state collaborations, Illinois has learned what worked, what didn't, and what challenges they continue to face as they design a community-based program in Massachusetts. Partners in Health will continue to advise IDPH on the state's program design and how best to tailor it to all of Illinois' communities.
In every region and across the state, the curriculum, software, and technology will be IDPH-driven, and IDPH will support the funding for new hires at local health departments where needed through federal CARES money and Disaster Relief Act funding.