CHICAGO (WLS) -- The City of Chicago launched a city-wide effort to recruit and hire contact tracers with about 500 jobs available.
The hiring is being done through 31 different community based organizations through a $56 million grant from the federal government.
The idea is to create jobs that benefit those communities hit hardest by COVID-19.
With Chicago still very much in the grips of the pandemic, there is a great need for contact tracers.
On Monday, community organizations joined Mayor Lori Lightfood in kicking off the formal process of hiring people for jobs that will provide training and career potential in the allied health fields down the road.
"This is really about a moment of hope. It's about making sure that we're doing what we need to do, and have the infrastructure to continue pressing in our response to COVID-19, but I think it's also a moment where we are creating opportunities for good jobs," Lightfoot said.
People will be hired from the communities where they live or work, Lightfoot said.
The director of one community based organization said they've already been interviewing potential tracers, and said that those individuals are very excited about the possibilities.
"It's huge because we know during this pandemic many people have lost their health insurance through their jobs. So, to have the opportunity to provide jobs with health insurance, it creates a stability as well as hope for people," said Keisha Davis-Johnson, Executive Director, Greater West Town Community Development Project.
Contact tracers will get paid $20 an hour and supervisors will be paid $24.
You must be 18 years old to be contact tracer, and having a background in customer service work is considered a plus.
"We need folks who have a level of empathy and compassion because you're going to be talking to people and telling them that they have been in contact with someone who has this dreaded disease," said Karin M. Norington-Reaves, CEO Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership.
The new jobs will be considered "essential" in the months ahead as COVID-19 may overlap with the flu season.
"As we are heading into the fall and into the winter, I don't completely know what COVID is going to look like here in Chicago. We're concerned about the potential for surge," said Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Public Heath Director.
The 31 community based organizations are looking to start hiring right away.
There are both full and part time jobs available.