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Minnesota AmeriCorps members will start helping the city of Minneapolis with contact tracing for COVID-19 cases next month.

The new roles, which 20 AmeriCorps members will take on through April, will help identify and provide resources to residents infected by the corona­­virus. It's part of a new emergency response program the Minnesota AmeriCorps launched to help organizations affected by COVID-19 — from food banks to programs helping the homeless.

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"We're definitely going to be pioneers in this space," said Andrew Mueller of the AmeriCorps program Reading & Math, Inc., which is recruiting the 20 AmeriCorps members. "It's obviously a timely opportunity."

Already, Mueller said, they've received more than 100 applicants for the 20 part-time positions, part of increasing interest in AmeriCorps during the economic downturn. The 200 jobs in the emergency response program drew more than 1,000 applicants.

"We are generally seeing an increased interest from our fellow Minnesotans in giving back," Mueller said.

The Twin Cities ranks No. 1 among U.S. cities for the number of volunteers in AmeriCorps, often referred to as the domestic Peace Corps.

The new contact tracers will work virtually 16 to 25 hours a week. They will be paid a stipend of $450 every two weeks and are eligible for an education award of $1,600. The program, funded by federal COVID-19 relief and AmeriCorps, is especially looking for people bilingual in Spanish or Somali, or those with experience in public health.

For more details, go to serve­togrow.org/response.

KELLY SMITH