Illinois hiring contact tracers to track people exposed, infected with COVID-19

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With more than a million people unemployed in Illinois, here's a job you can do to be a real asset to your community and you don't need any prior experience. It's COVID-19 contact tracing, and by making a few calls, you could save lives and get paid.

The city of Chicago is expected to hire 600 contact tracers and is willing to pay them at least $20 an hour. Governor Pritzker also wants nearly 4,000 contact tracers for the state of Illinois.

So what do they do?

Contact tracers are like detectives. They talk to people infected with COVID-19 about where they've been (at work, the store, out in public) and who they may have come into contact with to try and get as many people exposed to the coronavirus to isolate and stop the spread.

"I'm like CSI contact tracing, fantastic," said nursing student Rhett Buckley.

Buckley is training online right now to become a contact tracer through a new program at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines.

"You have to have a willingness to want to help people and ability to communicate is always crucial," Buckley said. "So if you're in a service industry, retail, a lot of those jobs that were really hit hard by the shutdown, this would be a great opportunity."

This is a role you can take on with no prior experience, to help people where you live, and potentially set you up for a career in healthcare.

"We're going to be hired in our community. You know, we're not being hired to make calls out in South Carolina. We're going to be called to make calls in Lake County and Cook County and the places around us. So, you know, these are our neighbors," Buckley said.

Professor Kathy Cabai coordinates a new contact tracing training program at the College of DuPage.

"It's like playing a clue game," Cabai said. "You're going to be the investigator and solve the problems, and figure out and try to connect the dots."

She said contact tracing teams in the state will be vital to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"Knowing that you can help people, I think it's just neat," Cabai said.

The first course at Oakton Community College is full, but they're looking to start another. You can find more information here.

College of DuPage has a course with openings that starts in July.

The first training program will run from June 29 to July 24, and the second session will run from July 27 to August 21. Scholarships and other tuition assistance may be available. To learn more and to register, visit College of DuPage website. For further questions, call (630) 942-2208 or email CE@cod.edu.

To indicate your interest in becoming a contract tracer with the state, you can fill out this form: IDPH Contact Tracing Interest Form.
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