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Local News

Will County seeks diverse language skills among contact tracers

About 40% of Will County contact tracers speak Spanish

The Will County Health Department on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Joliet.
The Will County Health Department on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Joliet.

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The Will County Health Department said it is continuing to grow its contact tracing force, including for those who speak other languages.

Health department director Sue Olenek told members of the Will County Board’s Public Health and Safety Committee on Wednesday that about 40% of the department’s contact tracers speak Spanish.

Members appeared pleased that the health department had been working to accommodate Spanish-speaking residents.

“So far, 40% is working,” Olenek said in an email via health department spokesman Steve Brandy.

Olenek also told members the department is looking into the need for contact tracers who speak other languages, such as Arabic.

The county health department has hired about 35 contact tracers and is looking to hire more, Brandy said.

Health officials have been stressing the importance of contact tracing as a way to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus locally.

Contact tracers reach out to individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, identify the people they may have been exposed to and work with them so they can isolate themselves to prevent further spread.

Tracers then call the people who were exposed to the virus in order to alert them and recommend they isolate themselves for 14 days.

The contact tracers also tell those exposed to the virus about what symptoms they should look out for and where they can get tested.

They will also provide information about resources for food, care assistance, laundry and other services that a patient or contact can use.

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