The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that they will be awarding a $631 million grant to 64 jurisdictions through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ELC) cooperative agreement.
The funding will come from the CARES Act passed on March 27. It will act as additional support aimed at helping reopen states across the U.S., according to the press release.
Secretary for Health and Human Services Alex Azar stated that the funding will help public health departments across the country increase testing, contact tracing and containment capacity — all vital steps to take in order for the economy to reopen, according to public health experts.
The CDC intends to use existing networks to reach out to the states and local jurisdictions receiving the funding to also help improve morbidity and mortality surveillance, as well as control the spread of the coronavirus in high-risk settings and among vulnerable populations.
“The professionals who staff America’s state, local, tribal, and territorial public health departments have played a vital role in protecting Americans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, by reporting and analyzing surveillance data, tracing the spread of the virus, and developing scientific guidelines appropriate for local communities,” Azar continued.
The director of the CDC, Robert Redfield, said that the funding infusion will help strengthen the nation’s health care apparatus, which has been strained since the U.S. onset of the pandemic.
“The ability to implement aggressive contact tracing, surveillance and testing will be fundamental to protecting vulnerable populations as the nation takes steps to reopen and Americans begin returning to their daily lives,” Redfield said in the announcement.
The CDC did not clarify which jurisdictions would specifically receive the funding, as calls for pandemic aid to go toward rural and tribal communities become louder, with lawmakers calling for increased support to these at-risk and underfunded areas.