Warren, Levin roll out plan for coronavirus ‘containment corps’
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) introduced a plan on Thursday to create a “containment corps” that would carry out a national coronavirus contact tracing program.
The Democratic proposal would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a plan within 30 days to “hire, deploy and train” individuals who would be responsible for investigating cases of the coronavirus and performing contact tracing.
“In order to keep our communities healthy and get our economy up and running, we must stand up a national contact tracing program that will stop the spread of this virus dead in its tracks,” Warren said in a statement.
Levin added that “establishing a nationwide contact tracing program is the only way we can truly know the progress we’ve made in containing the virus, and how far we have left to go before we can transition back to normal life.”
The Democratic lawmakers want to get their plan included in the next coronavirus bill passed by Congress. To help accurately scale the contact tracing, they are also calling for the CDC to step up coronavirus testing.
Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) rolled out their own plan on Wednesday that would provide $55 billion per year to hire hundreds of thousands of people to carry out testing, contact tracing and eventually vaccinating to fight the coronavirus.
The Warren-Levin proposal would require the CDC to consult with states and localities and determine how many individuals they would need to work as case investigators or to perform contact tracing, the process of finding people who have been in contact with infected individuals and informing them so they can quarantine themselves.
It would also require the CDC to provide grants to local health departments to carry out the investigations and contact tracing, with additional funding given based on population.
To help staff the program, it would require the Department of Labor to provide funding to help workplace agencies provide unemployed individuals with information about the contact tracing program and connect them to long-term employment opportunities after the end of the coronavirus health crisis.
Within 120 days of the health emergency ending, the Labor Department would have to publicly report details of the program such as how many individuals were hired, how many were previously unemployed and how many gained long-term employment after the end of the coronavirus public health emergency.
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