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St. Clair County part of new effort to increase contact tracing in Illinois

St. Clair County has been chosen to participate in the pilot program to expand contact tracing

CHICAGO — Illinois is launching a new effort to ramp up contact tracing across the state, and the state is looking to hire people to help, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced during his COVID-19 briefing Monday afternoon. 

It will be a tech-based approach that local health departments can use to collect and hold all "raw information" relating to contact-tracing. The local health departments will then be able to work on one platform and allow the state's health department to see COVID-19 data in real-time.

St. Clair County, in the Metro East, is one of the counties participating in the pilot program, called the Illinois Contact Tracing Collaborative. 

St. Clair was chosen because it has "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," according to a press release from Pritzker's office.

"With Illinois’ daily availability of testing among the best in the nation, we want to grow our voluntary contact tracing so we can further control and reduce the rate of spread of COVID-19 and stop outbreaks in their tracks,” Pritzker said.

The state also sent assessments to 97 local health departments regarding their ability to expand contact tracing capabilities.

RELATED: What is contact tracing?

The new effort will be funded through money from the CARES Act and the Disaster Relief Act. 

Local health departments will be in charge of hiring people to perform contact tracing. Those who are interested can fill out this form.

The department as contracted Partners In Health to help implement ad advise the state in this effort.

Last week, Pritzker began broadcasting from his home after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19.

As of May 18, there have been 96,495 total confirmed COVID-19 cases -- an increase of 2,294 in the last 24 hours. Also, 59 people have died, bringing the total to 4,234 deaths, according to the Illinois Department of Health.

On May 5, Pritzker announced a five-phase, regional plan for reopening the state.

RELATED: Report: Illinois unemployment system 'glitch' publicized private data

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