Ninety more COVID-19 contact tracers ready to deploy in Kane County
Kane County will begin a more robust and aggressive contact tracing program for local residents who test positive for COVID-19 this coming Monday as it nears the grim milestone of 10,000 total cases.
State guidelines say Kane County needs at least 160 contact tracers to fend off an even more rapid spread of the disease. As of Monday, county health officials said 9,875 residents had the virus or are battling it. The entire roster of the county health department maxes out at 66 employees.
County board members put $8 million of federal CARES Act money into beefing up the program and building a stockpile of personal protective equipment. That included hiring an outside vendor to build the new army of contact tracers. The first 90 members of that team came on board Monday and will start calling on people with positive tests on Aug. 17.
Guidelines call for the health department to contact people with COVID-19 within the first 24 hours of diagnosis in hopes of limiting that person's contact with others. The people the infected person was in contact with are notified of their exposure but not told the identity of the person who exposed them.
"We must have the ability to scale up or scale down based on the progression of the disease," said Barb Jeffers, the executive director of the Kane County Public Health Department. "We must move quickly."
The county wants the majority of the contact tracers hired to be county residents, including a large number with bilingual skills. Once all 160 are hired, they will be part of a larger group of about 4,000 new contact tracers state health officials began recruiting in recent weeks to supplement the tracing already occurring at various county health departments with limited staff.
The tracing will continue through June 2021. The county will use state funds to keep the program rolling after exhausting the federal dollars.
County residents interested in applying to become contact tracers can find the link to the application on the Kane County Public Health Department's website.