Kaiser Permanente, foundations pledge $81 million for contact tracing

Kaiser Permanente, foundations pledge $81 million for contact tracing

The Office of California governor Gavin Newsom has announced commitments totaling $81.8 million from the philanthropic and private sectors in support of contact tracing efforts in communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Commitments include a $63 million grant from Kaiser Permanente to implement the Public Health Institute's Tracing Health program — which has been deployed in Oregon and Washington — to bolster California's contact tracing efforts. In coordination with Futuro Health — a nonprofit founded by Kaiser Permanente and SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West — the program will hire, train, and embed teams of up to five hundred contact tracers from local communities in clinics in targeted areas. The grant also will fund efforts to connect individuals to the services and supports they need to self-quarantine as appropriate.

In addition, the California EndowmentBallmer Group, and Conrad N. Hilton, James IrvineCalifornia WellnessWeingartSierra HealthBlue Shield of CaliforniaCalifornia Health CareHeising-Simons, and Skoll foundations collectively pledged $18.8 million to help public health departments in the state hire and train a culturally and linguistically competent contact tracing workforce. The organizations will work with the state to identify the communities most impacted by the virus and fund coordinated efforts with local public health leaders. 

"Kaiser Permanente's support will allow us to initiate a rapid response network that can slow the spread of COVID-19," said PHI president and CEO Mary Pittman. "With contact tracing teams based right within a clinic, we can offer support to people from the moment they realize they may have been exposed. And because we are focusing on hiring from within the community, they'll be getting information and resources from people they trust, in the language they are most comfortable speaking."

"We must reduce the spread of COVID-19 and care for the communities that are being hit hardest by the virus," said Kaiser Permanente chair and CEO Greg A. Adams. "The recent increase of cases in California demonstrates the importance of being able to accurately track the virus and respond when and where it begins to surge in order to save lives. We are committed to helping the state deploy a robust contact-tracing strategy that will help Californians safely regain their livelihoods."

(Image credit: Skoll Foundation)