Trust for America’s Health Statement in Response to Congressional Passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”)


March 27, 2020

“Congress took an important step today to begin giving public health the resources it needs now to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeing in real-time the impact of the chipping away at public health budgets over the past 15 years. Health departments are facing unprecedented crises, and in many cases are doing so with a reduced workforce and 20th-century technologies.

The bill invests $4.3 billion in CDC, state and local public health to carry out critical response activities. It includes funding for state, local, tribal and territorial public health departments, global health security, and modernizing public health’s outdated data systems. We applaud Congress for allowing these funds to be spent over five years due to the increasing number and complexity of the nation’s public health challenges. The legislation includes funding for the Hospital Preparedness Program, a program that has seen its funding cut in half since 2003. It funds the development and purchase of vaccines and other critical needs.

Supplemental funding is critical during an emergency but cannot make up for long-standing, chronic underfunding of the public health system. We urgently need to rebuild and modernize the nation’s public health infrastructure and workforce. A significant, long-term commitment to public health infrastructure and programs is needed to prepare for the next pandemic and build a healthier, more resilient population. We need to strengthen the vaccine infrastructure, which will need to successfully and quickly distribute an eventual vaccine. We need to prevent and treat mental health issues and substance misuse, resolve health inequities and address the social determinants of health. The battle has begun.”

John Auerbach, President and CEO
Trust for America’s Health