Public Health

CDC To Fund 650 Health Experts To Help States Trace, Stop COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters stands in Atlanta. CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield says the agency will double the current number of positions to aid local health departments in quashing new outbreaks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters stands in Atlanta. CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield says the agency will double the current number of positions to aid local health departments in quashing new outbreaks.
Credit Elijah Nouvelage / Bloomberg via Getty Images
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing funding to hire 650 more workers at state health departments around the country to supplement more than 600 already in place, according to director Dr. Robert Redfield. Redfield says it’s part of an effort to focus on testing and contact tracing to prevent any big new outbreaks from occurring.

“As we open up, we need to reset our sights on what the primary strategy is to control this virus and that has got to be containment. And that means we have to have the testing and capacity to contain-contain-contain this virus,” he says.

The CDC director also says the agency has started talking with other federal agencies including the Census Bureau, as well programs like the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, to see if they might be able to provide some of the thousands of workers states will need.

“We are in the process of rapidly accelerating the human capacity that will be available to the states,” Redfield says. “So that’s why we’re working with the health departments — the state health departments now — to develop that expansion plan so that they have a substantially enhanced public health workforce.”

Redfield also says the CDC has formed what he calls “community protection” teams that have been sent to nine states where there haven’t been any big problems so far. The agency wants to make sure they stay that way. Each team is comprised of four to six members.

“We call them ‘protection teams’ to work with their health departments and begin to try beef up those states,” Redfield says. “And this was actually done before we hit our peak because we wanted to see what we could do to keep them low.”

Redfield says teams have also been sent to four other states to do things like create early warning systems to spot outbreaks in places that might be particularly vulnerable, including nursing homes. In addition, the agency says it’s providing grants to the CDC Foundation to help states hire more workers around the country.

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