Press Room

ASTHO Applauds President Biden’s Historic Public Health Workforce Expansion

ARLINGTON, VA (May 13, 2021)— Michael Fraser, chief executive officer of ASTHO, issued the following statement on the Biden Administration’s announcement to invest over $7 billion to hire and train public health workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“ASTHO applauds the Biden Administration’s announcement to invest $7.4 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to modernize and improve our public health system. The historic package will achieve this by investing in the core of any public health agency: its people. Specifically, ASTHO is appreciative of the investment to support the expansion of COVID-19 response activities at state, territorial, and local health departments through the expansion of public health nursing capacity, community-based public health workers, laboratory and epidemiology capacity, a Public Health AmeriCorps to develop incoming public health leaders, the expansion of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service and other key training programs, and the creation of a new grant program to expand, train, and modernize our public health workforce for the future.

“Our efforts to advocate on this critical issue began in earnest last year with a request for resources needed to support a robust contact tracing workforce in partnership with the Association of Public Health Laboratories, the Council on State and Territorial Epidemiologists, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, Big Cities Health Coalition, and the National Coalition of STD Directors. As we progress in our efforts to bring the pandemic to an end, the resources from the American Rescue Plan will be critical in building back and scaling up our current surge capacity to sustain the nation’s readiness. We are also grateful for the careful consideration in providing resources in a manner that allows for flexibility in both expenditure and implementation.

“We look forward to working with the Administration to leverage this historic investment in our nation’s public health infrastructure and build a 21st-century workforce to prepare for future and emerging public health threats.”

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ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and Freely Associated States, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.