S. 3606: HEALTH FORCE
Current Cosponsors: Senators Gillibrand, Bennet, Markey, Van Hollen, Blumenthal, Booker, Duckworth, Feinstein, Harris, Klobuchar, Reed, Rosen, and Smith.
Summary: In response to the dual health and economic crises facing America, Health Force will recruit, train and employ hundreds of thousands of Americans to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities, provide capacity for ongoing and future public health care needs, and build skills for new workers to enter the public health and health care workforce.
Background: America is “flattening the coronavirus curve,” but it will be months before
effective treatments are established and at least a year before a vaccine is deployable. Social
distancing is buying us time to launch wide-scale testing, contact tracing, and suspected case
isolation while preparing our hospitals and community health centers with necessary beds,
supplies, and personnel. Opening the economy and assuring every American of their safety will
require one of the most ambitious and expansive public health campaigns in our history. With
some 30 million Americans newly unemployed in the wake of the pandemic, there is an
opportunity to help Americans sustain themselves and directly participate in the national
response to this crisis.
Overview of Health Force: Health Force is inspired by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, which similarly tapped millions of job-seekers to help the nation recover from a sharp economic downturn. Health Force will train Americans to equip them with basic public health skills, including contact tracing, and will employ them in their home communities to expand the public health workforce and meet local needs. By providing federal funding to State, local, territorial, and tribal public health departments and their partners across the country, Health Force will ensure that every community is positioned to meet the most pressing needs.
Illustrative COVID-19 Response Activities
- Providing contact tracing, including the identification of cases of COVID-19 and their contacts in a culturally competent, multilingual manner;
- Supporting the administration of diagnostic, serologic, or other COVID–19 tests;
- Providing support that addresses social, economic, behavioral and preventive health needs
for individuals affected by COVID-19, including those who are asked to voluntarily isolate
or quarantine in their homes.
Illustrative Post-Emergency Response Activities
- Sharing public health messages with community members;
- Helping community members address social, economic, behavioral health, and preventive health needs using evidence-informed models and in accordance with recognized standards;
- Providing community-based information to local and tribal health departments to inform and
improve health programming, especially for hard-to-reach communities.