Press Releases

Houlahan Leads Bipartisan Legislation To Establish A National Public Health Corps

A New Branch Of National Service To Help Fight Spread Of COVID-19

Washington, May 12, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) introduced the National Public Health Corps Act of 2020 alongside Representatives Bera (D-CA), Foster (D-IL) and Waltz (R-FL).  This bipartisan bill would create a new branch of national service, the National Public Health Corps within the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to mobilize service-minded individuals to join the COVID-19 response and support enduring public health needs in communities across the country. This Corps will help fill the personnel gap in our current health care sector to ramp up testing, contact tracing and, eventually, distributing vaccination.

 

“As a former AmeriCorps member, I’m proud to lead a bipartisan coalition of service-minded Congressmembers to establish a new branch of national service – a National Public Health Corps,” said Houlahan. “This Corps will help fill the personnel gaps in our health care sector right now and allow us to adequately test, track and trace, and perhaps even to vaccinate our citizenry. In order to get to the other side of this pandemic and return to some semblance of normalcy, we need many, many more people who will be the boots on the ground to carry out these duties. As many people enter a turbulent and uncertain economy, this new national service branch has the potential to help put them on an impactful career path and give back to their communities. The National Public Health Corps will mobilize service-minded individuals to do this sort of work in response to this pandemic and beyond.”

 

“We urgently need a national testing strategy to help communities safely reopen,” said Congressman Bera, M.D. “Such a strategy will require a large, trained, and deployable workforce to conduct the widespread contact tracing and serological testing that is necessary to identify who is infected and who may be immune. I’m proud to join my colleagues in our bipartisan call for the creation of a National Public Health Corps which would provide states and local health departments with much needed personnel to implement a national testing strategy.”

 

“We need a truly comprehensive strategy if we’re going to be successful at reopening our economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Foster. “This includes making sure we have sufficient personnel in place to carry out a national testing strategy, including trace-testing and the deployment of a vaccine. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce the National Public Health Corps Act and give service-minded individuals a critical way to serve their country.”

 

“There are countless servant leaders who have been sidelined by COVID-19 and are anxious to get back to work to assist their communities during this time of great need,” said Rep. Waltz. “The National Public Health Corps gives these leaders an opportunity to continue serving by helping America recover and rebuild.”

 

“As Americans grapple with COVID-19, public health experts have made it clear that one of our best hopes for slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus is by massively expanding contact tracing — and the National Public Health Corps Act does so brilliantly,” said Jesse Colvin, CEO of Service Year Alliance. “By mobilizing Americans into national service to support contact tracing efforts we are not only confronting this public health crisis, but also supporting America’s economic recovery. We are eager to lift up this effort and help put Americans back to work through national service.”

 

The National Public Health Corps Act of 2020 will:

  • Create a National Public Health Corps within Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)
  • Designate CDC and HHS as the partner agencies to support management and placement of Corps members with state and local health departments;
  • Urge that Corps members’ work include COVID-19 response related activities, including contact tracing, testing, and vaccination;
  • Direct CNCS to notify returned Peace Corps volunteers and AmeriCorps volunteers who are side-lined due the pandemic of the opportunity to work with the Corps;
  • Prioritize hiring individuals who were side-lined from their national service program because of COVID-19 and other unemployed individuals;
  • Directs the CDC to provide the necessary training for Corps members if any state and local health departments cannot provide it;
  • Allow for the Corps to expand to provide rapid surge capacity for public health workforce needs and contract when such personnel are no longer needed for a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Require CNCS to report to Congress on any additional authorities needed.