Press Room

Additional Supplemental Funding is Indeed Needed for Public Health

ARLINGTON, Va. (Aug. 3, 2020)—Michael Fraser, chief executive officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), issued the following statement today in response to the national discussion about whether state and territorial health departments need additional emergency supplemental funding for the COVID-19 response.

"As Congress considers the next emergency supplemental appropriations package, it is imperative to understand that public health departments are not 'hoarding' federal funding. State and territorial health departments must project, plan, procure, and implement essential response activities. Public health spending is carefully calculated based on the duration of current available funding in the face of growing demand. Additionally, guardrails and protections exist which may slow the allocation and draw down of funds—such as competitively bidding for vendors, hiring staff, and seeking approval from state legislatures. While cumbersome, these processes ensure good stewardship and utilization of federal funding.

"The pandemic is claiming hundreds of thousands of lives with millions of Americans infected, and soon we will have the twin challenges of flu and COVID-19 straining our health care systems. At this juncture, additional federal resources directed to CDC, state, territorial, and local health departments are needed for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines; expanded contract tracing and testing; and building a robust next-generation public health infrastructure to protect against future pandemics.

"State, territorial, tribal, and local public health departments are on the frontlines of the response to this unrelenting virus. Our members are committed to allocating the current resources, but they cannot change the archaic systems that exist to ensure due diligence is met. Moreover, given current devastating budget constraints for state governments, these critical activities cannot commence without additional federal funding. We urge Congress and the administration to support our governmental public health system."

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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.