Durbin Discusses COVID-19 Response with Illinois Public Health Officials

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) discussed the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic with Illinois members of the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO). Durbin heard about efforts in Henderson, Lake, and Cook Counties to expand vaccinations, address health disparities, and support the health workforce.  Durbin highlighted the federal government’s efforts to improve COVID-19 vaccine distribution and testing across Illinois, and shared how the American Rescue Plan can help local and county health departments.

“This is a national public health crisis that demands further federal assistance so our states can get shots into people’s arms and testing strategies and locations. It was good to hear from local officials in county health departments who are primarily responsible for this incredible public health undertaking of vaccinations, testing, and community engagement. I am grateful for their commitment to our communities, and together, we will break the back of this pandemic,” Durbin said.

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan includes $7.6 billion to establish a new community health jobs corps via health departments, $7.5 billion in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grants to states for vaccinations, $46 billion for testing, $1 billion for vaccine confidence outreach, and $10 billion for personal protective equipment (PPE) through the Defense Production Act.  There is also nearly $4 billion in mental health and substance abuse grants.

From the December 2020 omnibus appropriations and COVID-19 relief package, Illinois received $843 million in CDC funding for health departments to support vaccine infrastructure and testing.  Illinois also has received more than $43 million in FEMA funding for the Illinois National Guard’s vaccination effort.