The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced plans Friday for a $2.1 billion investment into public health infrastructure for infection prevention across healthcare facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis clinics and ambulatory surgery centers.
Bankrolled by the American Rescue Plan, the investments are an effort to stem the spread of emerging infectious diseases like COVID-19 and healthcare-associated infections that have surged over the past year, the agency said.
“This funding will dramatically improve the safety and quality of the healthcare delivered in the United States during the pandemic and in the future,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., said in a statement. “Funding will provide significant resources to our public health departments and healthcare systems and opportunities to develop innovative strategies to protect every segment of the U.S. population, especially those disproportionately affected by the pandemic, at a time that they are hit hard.”
The agency will be issuing $1.25 billion of the funds over a three-year period to 64 different state, local and territorial health departments, with initial awards totaling $885 million to be doled out this October.
First and foremost, $500 million of those early funds will go toward staffing, training and deploying “strike teams” to support long-term care facilities facing known or suspected COVID-19 outbreaks. These teams will be created in partnership with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and will address the need for surge capacity or adequate staffing at hard-hit nursing homes and other facilities, the CDC wrote.
Meanwhile, the other $385 million set to roll out in October will support health departments across five areas of infection prevention and surveillance:
- Broad reinforcement of public health departments’ prevention, detection and containment efforts in healthcare settings
- Increased state and regional laboratory capacity
- Infection prevention and control training for front-line healthcare workers
- Expanded data collection through the National Healthcare Safety Network and technical assistance for facilities unable to report
- State-level antibiotic stewardship analyses and implementation programs
The CDC said the remaining $880 million will be used “to support healthcare partners, academic institutions and other nonprofit partners to develop new prevention interventions and capacities for infection prevention and control training, data collection and technical assistance” over the next several years.
COVID-19 has underscored the need for greater infection control and surveillance support across healthcare settings, the agency wrote in its announcement.
Healthcare-associated infections skyrocketed in 2020 due to a “perfect storm” of COVID-19 stressors on providers, agency leaders and researchers revealed earlier this month. The increases, as much as 47% year over year for central line-associated bloodstream infections and 44.8% for ventilator-associated events, reversed multiple years of progress against these healthcare-associated infections.
The investments also come after COVID-19 outbreaks ransacked nursing homes across the nation. Many of these facilities faced multiple, persistent flare-ups across both residents and staff, leading to more than 1.3 million cases and 137,000 deaths as of CMS’ Sept. 5 tallies.