WASHINGTON (NEWS10) — Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet, Brian Schatz, Ed Markey, Chris Van Hollen, Amy Klobuchar, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Bob Casey, Tammy Duckworth, and Jack Reed announced the introduction of the Health Force, Resilience Force, and Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act. This Act would invest billions in the nation’s public health jobs and infrastructure and aid the country’s lagging vaccine distribution campaign.
The Resilience Force would complement the Health Force by supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) effort to combat COVID-19. These public health workers could respond to a surge of COVID-19 patients as well as administer and distribute vaccines.
Community-based public health jobs and resources, like those created by the Health Force, are known to improve local health outcomes, including vaccination rates. The Health Force proposal would ensure the federal government has a proactive and coordinated approach to facilitate vaccine distribution and administration — it would deliver $40 billion a year, for the first two years, to meet the COVID-19 vaccine distribution needs and address the various public health challenges caused by the pandemic.
Health Force will train Americans, equip them with basic public health skills, and employ them in their home communities to expand the public health workforce and meet local needs. By providing federal funding to State, local, territorial, and Tribal public health departments, and their partners across the country, Health Force will ensure that every community is positioned to meet its most pressing needs.
Health Force could be responsible for:
- Supporting the administration of COVID–19 tests
- Supporting COVID-19 vaccination campaigns
- Addressing social, economic, behavioral and preventive health needs for individuals affected by COVID-19, including those who are asked to voluntarily isolate or quarantine in their homes
- Sharing public health information with community members and organizations
- Helping community members address social, economic, behavioral health, and preventive health needs beyond those created by the pandemic, using evidence-informed models and in accordance with recognized standards
- Sharing community-based information with local and Tribal health departments to inform and improve health programming, especially for hard-to-reach communities. Promoting linkages with other health and social programs
After the current public health crisis concludes, the Health Force would be kept to serve as local, trusted public health workers in their home communities, especially in historically underserved areas.
In addition to the Health Force, the legislation also includes the Resilience Force. This force would complement the Health Force goals by training 62,000 additional FEMA Cadre of On-Call Response/Recovery (CORE) members to battle COVID-19 and natural disasters. Also, Resilience Force members would provide a workforce for FEMA, broadening opportunities for unemployed Americans while supporting COVID-19 response plans, including vaccination centers.
Resilience Force members could assist with supply chain logistics, rebuild COVID-safe infrastructure for schools and beyond, and aid the emergency procurement of medical, personal protective equipment, and testing supplies.