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Rep. Schrier Leads Effort to Bolster Public Health Through National Service

Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08) has introduced legislation that will expand national public service to fight the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act (HR 6702) would provide a comprehensive, locally focused, national service strategy to address, move forward, and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Issaquah, 8th CD)

“Right now, the most important thing we can do to start moving towards ‘normal life’ is to competently address this public health crisis,” said Rep. Schrier. “For the last few months, I have been advocating for an extensive, national contact tracing program that will allow us to identify cases, isolate those patients, then find the people they’ve been in contact with, and test and quarantine them. Without a vaccine or an effective treatment, this is how we will combat this pandemic and allow people to feel more comfortable leaving their homes. Training and educating AmeriCorps and other National Service members in public health will broaden their skill base, expand the health care workforce, and stop this virus. By tapping into service-minded young people from all over our country, and then recruiting others, we may also spark a passion for public health and create the next generation of public servants to address some of our other pressing healthcare needs.”

The Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act creates 750,000 AmeriCorps positions and establishes a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to manage a quick, federal deployment to crisis regions. These new roles would prepare Americans with meaningful opportunities to improve public health while supporting the needs of local communities and economies. To encourage participation from Americans of all backgrounds, this legislation would also increase AmeriCorps living stipends and grant educational awards equivalent to two years of public college tuition. Empowering AmeriCorps will enhance communities’ ability to address, respond, and recover from the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19.

“Now more than ever we need to grow our public health workforce and build capacity to do critical work like contact tracing. In addition to supporting our current efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, these positions would offer opportunities for people to develop the skills and experience needed to perform essential public health work in the future,” said. Dr. Kathy Lofy, Washington State Health Officer.

“The Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act sponsored by Representative Schrier would significantly expand opportunities for individuals to step up and serve our country as AmeriCorps members in the vital role of contact tracers, as well as help address food insecurity, and related issues. While serving as Executive Director of the WA State Service Commission from 1993-2012 and as national AmeriCorps Director from 2012-16 I have witnessed the extraordinary commitment thousands of individuals from our state have shown serving during national emergencies and disasters. They can be counted upon to serve our country now just like they served in the past,” said Bill Basl, Director, AmeriCorps 2012-2016.

“Now more than ever, we need a trained public health workforce that is available to keep us healthy and be ready to help us in times of need. This bill provides a critical mechanism for students who come from underserved communities to afford a public health education and to work in the communities that need them most,” said Hilary Godwin, Dean, University of Washington Department of Public Health.

“The Pandemic Response and Opportunity through National Service Act would be a game-changer for the State of Washington and our nation’s recovery from COVID-19,” said Amber Martin-Jahn, Executive Director of the Serve Washington commission. “Not only would this legislation address critical public health needs like contact tracing that states so desperately need, but we can also expand national service and engage more people in meaningful service with improved benefits. This win-win gives states more boots on the ground for response and recovery efforts and economic opportunity through service for those hardest-hit by the pandemic.”

The above is a press release from the office of Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-Issaquah, 8th CD).  The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents and encourages our readers to personally verify any information they find may be overly biased or questionable. The publication of this press release does not indicate an endorsement of its contents. 

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