Federal health officials on Friday announced a $2.1 billion investment to strengthen prevention and control measures against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases across the public health care sector.
The funding, stemming from the American Rescue Plan, will be available to nursing homes to hire additional staff, increase vaccination rates of all types (such as influenza and COVID-19) and strengthen infection control, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said during a White House briefing.
"We know the COVID-19 pandemic has placed tremendous stress on the healthcare sector from hospitals to nursing homes to outpatient clinics," Walensky said, noting that multiple studies have demonstrated significant increases in healthcare-associated infections amid the pandemic, "reversing key national progress made prior to 2020."
Infection control measures are critical in nursing homes and hospitals caring for highest risk patients, she said. The funding announced Friday also involves a three-year plan to issue $1.25 billion across 64 state, local and territorial health departments to bolster lab capacity to detect infectious threats, training and tracking infections in real time.
"Infection prevention and control saves lives across the healthcare sector, whether stopping the spread of SARS-COV-2 and containing the spread of many other infectious diseases such as drug-resistant infections," Walensky added. "Ensuring health care settings have the resources necessary to stop infections is pivotal to ending this pandemic and to preventing future ones."
Most of the initial funding by October, some $500 million, will be allocated to create so-called "strike teams" to help nursing homes, long-term care facilities and others respond to COVID-19 outbreaks.