Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic in Chicago
The City of Chicago’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing Corps was established in 2020 in collaboration with The Partnership, the City of Chicago, and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). The Partnership received a $61 million grant from the City of Chicago and CDPH to serve as the lead coordinating organization of the Corps. Through a competitive process, The Partnership then identified 31 Community Based Organizations (CBOs) to serve as the local employers, ensuring the contact tracers lived in or near the City’s hardest-hit communities. 600+ Chicagoans were hired, trained in an earn-as-you-learn program through City Colleges of Chicago, and served as the community-based backbone of Chicago’s COVID response. These Corps members have gone on to expand their careers in healthcare.
The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership receives a $56 million grant from the City of Chicago and The Chicago Department of Public Health to create 600 contact tracing jobs.
The Partnership releases two requests for proposals to identify Community Based Organizations (CBOs) to serve as local employers of contact tracers.
The Partnership announces the 31 CBOs chosen to serve as local employers of contact tracers in the Chicago communities hit the hardest by the pandemic.
CBOs begin onboarding contact tracers who live and work in Chicago’s hardest-hit communities.
The Partnership receives $4.275 million from a National Disaster Recovery Grant and $3.875 million from a National Employment Recovery Grant, both of which are part of the National Dislocated Worker Program. The grants provide laid-off and displaced workers with subsidized employment and training in in demand industries while assisting with local disaster relief efforts connected to the public health crisis created by the pandemic. Through these grants, The Partnership makes it possible for approximately 12 non-profit organizations to meet a variety of community needs created by the pandemic.
The Partnership joins Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in announcing the County’s allocation of $4 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for job training and placement.
The Partnership participates in creating Cook County’s Early Warning Network. The Network reaches out to manufacturing companies that are in danger of layoffs or closure, offering business and financial services to help them avoid downsizing or going out of business.
The Partnership joins Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot as she announces an emergency COVID-19 relief package for the hospitality industry, including a $10 million grant program for Chicago’s restaurants and bars.
Essential workers are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. More than 160 contact tracers staff City-wide vaccination pods.
More Americans are vaccinated than infected with COVID-19; the United States reaches a milestone as more Americans are reported to have received at least one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 than having tested positive for the virus.
Over a 72-hour period, The Partnership and CDPH created and trained Corps members to staff the COVID-19 Call Center serving the City’s United Center vaccination site.
The Promotores de Salud (also known as Community Health Workers or CHWs) are created to discuss COVID-19 and health-related issues in Spanish with the Hispanic community. As trusted members of the Hispanic and Black communities, Promotores provide services such as COVID-19 education and resources, patient advocacy, and translation through workshops, canvassing, and community outreach and events with the support of project partners.
Corps members launch Community Canvassing Work, conducting door-to-door canvassing in 13 hard-hit Chicago communities with low vaccination rates.
Corps engages in community outreach, promoting and attending 519 city-wide events with vaccination sites. For example, the Corps supported a Swap-o-Rama event in Chicago where more than 2,000 residents were vaccinated.
Over eight months, The COVID-19 Call Center handled 303,256 inbound calls and made 79,564 outbound calls to specific populations.
The Corps supports and staff vaccination pods for children 5 to 11 years old.
The Corps in 2022-2023
The Corps officially moved on to the preventative and recovery phase and became the Chicago Community Health Response Corps. Through a competitive process, CDPH awarded a grant of $19.2 million to The Partnership to serve as the Corps’ lead coordinating organization.
The Response Corps focuses on chronic disease prevention and community health outreach, health literacy, and resource navigation, complementing CDPH’s strategic plan: Healthy Chicago 2025.
The goals of the Response Corps are to:
• Create public health workforce employment and training opportunities for people who live in communities that are most affected by health and economic inequities.
• Increase community members’ connections to and utilization of resources to mitigate the social, economic, and health impacts of the pandemic.
• Equip Chicagoans with health knowledge and resources to achieve their desired health outcomes
• Continue efforts to promote resilience against COVID-19 and other public health threats in high-risk communities
11 Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) serve as local employers for the City of Chicago’s Community Health Response Corps, focusing on Chicago’s hardest-hit communities:
|Greater West Town Community Development Project
|SGA Youth and Family Services
|Habilitative Systems, Inc.
|KLEO Community Family Life Center
|Calumet Area Industrial Commission
|Puerto Rican Cultural Center
|The Resurrection Project
|Phalanx Family Services
|Central States SER
|Center for New Horizons
Check out The Partnership’s Hire Frequency Podcast Episode, “The Chicago COVID-19 Community Response Corps: A Story of Commitment, Collaboration, and, Most Important of all, Compassion,” that takes a deeper dive into the story behind the Corps. The episode features Partnership COVID-19 Response Project Director Claudia Cattouse-Regalado as she sits down with Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady and Corps Members Cornelius Chandler and Cynthia Rodriguez, to talk about this unique program, in which people are working together to fight an invisible, deadly enemy: COVID-19. A story that is still changing lives every day.
For more information, visit the Chicago Department of Public Health at https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/cdph.html