In a move that will affect every jurisdiction in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week that $3.2 billion will be issued to state, local, and territorial jurisdictions to strengthen their public health workforce and its infrastructure.
The bulk of the funding came from the American Rescue Plan Act, which provided $3 billion for jurisdictions to recruit, retain and train their workforce, such as critical frontline public health workers so hard-pressed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another $140 million came from a new appropriation for jurisdictions meant to improve and revive public health infrastructure. The remaining $65 million will emphasize training, evaluation, and other technical assistance for jurisdictions working to bolster their services and workforce.
“State, local, and territorial health departments are the heart of the U.S. public health system, and the COVID-19 pandemic severely stressed these agencies, which were already weakened by neglect and underinvestment,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director, said. “This grant gives these agencies critical funding and flexibility to build and reinforce the nation’s public health workforce and infrastructure and protect the populations they serve. We are meeting them where they are and trusting them to know what works best for their communities.”
According to the CDC, stronger infrastructure will mean healthier guarantees of safe food and water, improved disease tracking and data monitoring, better child and maternal healthcare, and improved odds against outbreaks like COVID-19. The grant also offers an opportunity to increase equity in the health system and provide more direct federal support to public health agencies in modernizing data systems and basic public health needs.