WASHINGTON, D.C. – During today’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Hearing, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin spoke to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about the public health threat posed by new coronavirus variants and the CDC’s efforts to identify and track these variants.
The American Rescue Plan includes $1.75 Billion, championed by Senator Baldwin, for CDC to conduct, expand, and improve activities to sequence genomes, identify mutations, and survey the circulation and transmission of viruses.
“We haven’t beaten this pandemic, especially when it comes to emerging variants and mutations of the coronavirus, which represent a growing threat to the health and security of our nation,” said Senator Baldwin. “Thankfully, the American Rescue Plan takes an important step in combatting these variants, and provides an investment for CDC to ramp up their efforts on genomic sequencing and surveillance, and I was proud to champion this provision because I know how important it is for us to understand the threat that’s before us and better protect all Americans from this public health crisis.”
CDC Director Walensky stated that the additional funding provided by the American Rescue Plan is essential to help expand the public health workforce and increase genomic sequencing across the country.
The $1.75 billion in the American Rescue Plan can also be used to award grants or cooperative agreements to state, local, tribal, or territorial public health departments to increase sequencing capacity, expand the understanding of the COVID-19 variations, and build analytical capacity in health departments across the country. Funds can also be used to enhance and expand the informatics capabilities of the public health workforce, and to award grants for the construction, alteration or renovation of facilities to improve genomic sequencing and surveillance capabilities at the state and local level.