Underwood Pushes for State and Local Public Health Department Resources In Next Coronavirus Relief Package

May 7, 2020
Press Release
Funding would support testing, contact tracing, and other critical public health measures that must be taken to safely reopen economy

WASHINGTON— Today, Representative Lauren Underwood (IL-14) led 33 members of the House of Representatives in an effort urging House leadership to include robust emergency funding for state and local public health departments in the next coronavirus relief package. In the letter, Members emphasized that without adequate funding, public health departments will not be able to fully execute their urgent work to help states reopen safely. Members requested that the next relief package include emergency funding through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to directly support state and local public health departments, including public health laboratories and Disease Intervention Specialists. 

"Public health departments are leading critical COVID-19 efforts such as conducting diagnostic testing and contact tracing; collecting data on cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities; and spreading important public health messages. As they take on these responsibilities, public health departments have continued to provide mental health care and substance use treatments, STD and HIV surveillance, childhood immunizations and adult vaccinations, and other services that individuals, families, and communities throughout our states rely on every day. Facing serious financial and personnel strains, our nation's state and local public health departments are in desperate need of immediate relief," members wrote.  

A signed copy of the letter can be found here.

Additionally, Representatives Terri A. Sewell (AL-07), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18, Steve Cohen (TN-09), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), David Trone (MD-06), Bill Foster (IL-11), Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Susan A. Davis (CA-53), Donna E. Shalala (FL-27), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Elaine G. Luria (VA-02), Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), Angie Craig (MN-02), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Jahana Hayes (CT-05),  TJ Cox (CA-21), Darren Soto (FL-09), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), John Yarmuth (KY-03), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Jason Crow (CO-06), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Nanette Diaz Barragan (CA-44), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Bradley S. Schneider (IL-10), and Jim Cooper (TN-05) joined Underwood in sending the letter.  

"Local health departments are now tasked with COVID-19 screening, contact tracing, patient follow-up, community prevention strategies, community guidance communication, and local enforcement. These services are as critical to communicable disease prevention as they are labor-intensive for our local health departments. Congresswoman Lauren Underwood has demonstrated caring leadership in supporting our nation's state and local public health departments. As the Public Health Officer for our county, I have seen her work promptly to be proactive in getting information and resources to community members.  This solution-focused approach is so very much needed during this time of world pandemic," said Dr. Amaal V.E. Tokars, Executive Director of Kendall County Health Department.  

"I commend Congresswoman Lauren Underwood for her leadership in supporting our nation's state and local public health departments. As the former Baltimore City Health Commissioner, I know that it will be critical to invest in our public health infrastructure in order to safely reopen society. I urge Congress to support Representative Underwood's request to provide the emergency funding that public health departments will need to provide adequate testing, conduct contact tracing, and protect our communities in the midst of an unprecedented challenge," said Dr. Leana Wen, Visiting Professor of Health Policy and Management at George Washington University Milken School of Public Health; former Baltimore City Health Commissioner.