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Lighfoot Announces $56 Million RFP For Expansion Of COVID-19 Contact Tracing

CHICAGO (CBS) -- In the latest effort to track and trace COVID-19 cases in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced plans for the city putting out a $56 million RFP (request for proposals) to enhance tracing efforts.

The money will come from the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health. The goal is to certify a dedicated staff committed to contact tracing efforts.

"One of the most important weapons we have is contact tracing which is our ability to follow the path of this disease to learn where it is coming from and who is getting it and how it is spreading in our communities," Lightfoot said.  "These organizations will be responsible for recruiting, hiring and supporting a total of at least 600 new contact tracers, supervisors and coordinators across our city."

She added that they will ultimately be able to trace 4,500 new contacts a day when it's fully up and running. The jobs will last about 18 months, starting at $20 an hour and $24 for supervisors. All the jobs will have health benefits. The new people coming through the RFP should be trained to work in August.

"This exciting new RFP represents a win-win for our city by both stemming the spread of COVID-19 among our most-impacted communities, as well as addressing the underlying health inequities these same communities have faced for generations," said Lightfoot.

More information on contact tracing jobs can be found at the city of Chicago's coronavirus page.

"As we ease out of shelter in place, it is more important than ever to implement all proven practices to prevent further spread of the virus," said CDPH Commissioner Doctor Allison Arwady. "This approach provides the opportunity not only to operationalize an important tool in the fight against COVID-19, but also leverage the economic investment sourced from federal COVID relief funding to create thriving wage jobs and address long-standing health inequities caused by unequal economic opportunity and access to education."

Arwady said the city's health department received the money for the RFP from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through what's called the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Grant which is mean to help support tracing efforts. She said the department received word of the money last Friday.

"A second portion is through the Illinois Department of Public Health which is also federal funding at the original base but is through the state to support contact tracing at the local level. We have been excited to be able to put some of this funding out to support community-based organizations and add to the work we have been doing."

This is a developing story.

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