ASTHO Applauds Congress on Approval of Much Needed COVID-19 Resources and Increases to Public Health in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021
December 22, 2020
ARLINGTON, VA—Michael Fraser, chief executive officer of ASTHO, issued the following statement about the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
"We applaud members of Congress for their work to reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement that finalizes FY21 appropriations bills and provides additional COVID-19 emergency supplemental resources. This much needed assistance comes at a time when our country is facing an unprecedented rise in case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths. In addition to providing increases to the budgets of the CDC, HRSA, ASPR, and SAMHSA, this agreement restores Medicaid coverage to Compacts of the Free Association citizens, applies timely regulations around the online sale of e-cigarettes, and provides funding for a public health laboratory in Guam, all of which were priorities for state and territorial health agencies.
Specifically, ASTHO appreciates that the bill recognizes the need to support COVID-19 vaccine distribution by state and territorial health agencies. The bill provides $8.75 billion in resources for vaccine distribution and infrastructure—a much-needed boost to state and territorial efforts to move vaccine quickly and monitor its uptake. ASTHO and the Association of Immunization Managers, along with many other partners, have advocated for these resources since October. Getting these resources out quickly to states is critical: state and territorial public health officials are leading and coordinating historic vaccination campaigns in their communities and are in urgent need of adequate resources to successfully support those efforts as they expand to more and more Americans.
ASTHO is grateful that the bill provides $22.4 billion for COVID-19 contact tracing, containment, mitigation, testing, and surveillance, which will greatly increase the capacity of public health departments to slow and ultimately prevent the spread of COVID-19.
We look forward to working with Congress and the incoming administration to transition the COVID-19 response from mitigation to recovery, and to effectively address current and ongoing public health priorities such as rebuilding our nation’s public health infrastructure, ending the HIV epidemic, and addressing the crisis of opioid addiction and misuse."
ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and Washington, D.C., 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.