Biden-Harris Administration Announces Additional Investments in COVID-19 Response

This week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a series of new investments of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to continue support of the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding announcement, according to the White House, is a direct response to the recommendations advanced by the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force which delivered its final report to the White House Office of COVID-19 Response this week.

Recall, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., on the first full day in office, created the Health Equity Task Force to identify health equity issues uncovered and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, the White House indicates over 80 percent of the Task Force recommendations have already been fulfilled and the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to embedding the recommendations into initiatives and programs throughout the federal government.

To accomplish many of the recommendations set forth by the Task Force, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a total $785 million investment across the following areas:

  • Nearly $240 Million to Expand Community-Based Public Health Workforce – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), will invest nearly $240 million into a new program to provide education and on-the-job training to build the pipeline of public health workers in underserved communities. This program will support apprenticeship programs at over 500 health care and public health sites nationally, including emergency departments, health centers, state and local public health departments, mobile health clinics, shelters, housing programs, and other locations where high-risk populations access care and receive services. Funding is anticipated to support a pipeline program for 13,000 community health workers and paraprofessionals from underserved communities.
  • $210 Million to Build Preparedness and the Public Health Workforce Among Tribal Communities – The Indian Health Service (IHS) will invest $92 million to hire school nurses to provide critical testing, contact tracing, case management, and overall school health to support Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) K-12 schools, $67 million to enhance public health capacity and emergency preparedness for IHS and Tribal Nations, $45 million to expand loan repayment and support IHS’s ability to recruit and retain professionals, and $6 million to support core surveillance and epidemiology activities for American Indian and Alaska Native populations.
  • $150 Million for People with Disabilities and Older Adults – The Administration for Community Living (ACL) within HHS is investing $150 million for its disability and aging networks to increase the public health workforce with disability and aging expertise and to collaborate with public health systems to support the health and safety of people with disabilities and older adults who are at heightened risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • More than $140 Million to CBOs for Vaccine Outreach – HRSA will award an additional $66.5 million as part of the community-based organization (CBO) vaccine outreach initiative established earlier this year. This funding has allowed CBOs to hire local community outreach workers to educate individuals, provider resources, and address barriers to getting vaccinated in underserved areas. HRSA will also invest another $77 million for additional CBOs to hire community workers for vaccine outreach and engage in other efforts to build vaccine confidence.
  • $35 Million for CDC Workforce Diversity – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will invest $35 million to expand activities in recruitment and pipeline programs to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in public health workforce and increase awareness and interest in public health among underrepresented groups.

Additional information from the White House is available here.