U.S. gives $7.4 billion for more school nurses, better public health
The federal government is providing $7.4 billion to hire more school nurses to vaccinate children, to create a service corps for health care, and to boost disease detection efforts, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Carole Johnson, the Biden administration coronavirus testing coordinator, told the AP that the funding is part of the U.S. pandemic response and will provide a steady stream of money rather than the cycle of "boom and bust'" that has been the usual response to health emergencies.
"We really see this as funding that can help end the pandemic and help us prevent the next one," Johnson said. About $4.4 billion will go to current priorities in fighting the pandemic, she added, including $3.4 billion for states and local health departments to increase hiring vaccinators, contact tracers, virus testers, and epidemiologists. In addition, $500 million will go to hiring school nurses, who could vaccinate children now that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for teens.
Another $400 million will help set up the Public Health AmeriCorps, a service program to enlist young people early in their careers in public service work. The idea is to train and encourage young professionals interested in public health.
The money will create tens of thousands of new jobs over five years, Johnson said. Some of the money is for long-term investments. About $3 billion will go to a grant program to help states and local communities maintain public health efforts after the pandemic ends, the AP said.
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