WASHINGTON, D.C. – Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Katherine Clark (MA-5) invited Winchester’s Public Health Director Jennifer Murphy as well as other public health officials from across Massachusetts’ Fifth District as her virtual guests to the State of the Union address on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. She met virtually with her guests ahead of President Biden’s address to thank them for their selfless work throughout the pandemic and discuss how the American Rescue Plan’s investments in local government, COVID-19 mitigation, and public health generally helped to keep their communities protected and safe. 

“Throughout the pandemic, our incredible town and city public health officials have continued to put community before self, risking their own health to protect their neighbors from COVID-19. This is an opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to these officials and all our health care heroes,” said Assistant Speaker Clark. “President Biden and Congressional Democrats knew that these local officials would be on the frontlines of the crisis, and that’s why we put health care investments at the top of our agenda in Washington. Only weeks after President Biden was sworn into office, we enacted the American Rescue Plan. It has enabled our cities and towns to provide COVID-19 testing and conduct contact tracing, allowed state and local governments to hire more staff, provided vital PPE, and so much more. I am honored to invite these hometown heroes to be my virtual guests to the State of the Union to applaud their service and bring attention to their sacrifices.”
“I appreciate that Congresswoman Clark took the time to hear feedback directly from local public health officials of our experience in spearheading the pandemic response for our respective communities,” said Jennifer Murphy, Director of Public Health for the Town of Winchester. “We were able to give the Congresswoman insight into the greatest challenge of our professional careers; the past two years certainly highlighted the strengths and weaknesses at the local level. We thank Congresswoman Clark for her support and funding from the Federal level. Certainly without critical funding over the course of the pandemic, the local response would not have been as robust; our residents benefitted from federal assistance. Local public health is hopeful that our role continues to be valued at the federal level and this partnership continues.”  

The American Rescue Plan provided: 

• $350 billion to states, territories, Tribes, and local governments:

◦ MA received a total of $8.1 billion: $4.5 billion to state government and $3.6 billion to local governments 

◦ Funds could be used for responding to the public health emergency, to offset revenue losses, bolster economic recovery, and provide premium pay for essential workers.

• $10 billion for a Critical Infrastructure Projects program to help states, territories, and Tribal governments carry out critical capital projects directly enabling work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to COVID-19.

• $7.6 billion for public health departments to hire 100,000 full-time employees into the public health workforce.

◦ These positions include contact tracers, social support specialists, community health workers, public health nurses, epidemiologists, lab personnel, and communications.

◦ Funds were directed toward PPE, technology, data management, supplies, and reporting.

Original story HERE