On June 18, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services awarded 59 jurisdictions with $200 million to bolster support and enhance the disease intervention specialists (DIS) workforce. These awards represent the initial funding of the $1.13 billion investment being made over the next five years, consistent with the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and will provide these jurisdiction public health programs and CDC with the support needed to expand and leverage the valuable work of DIS.
“Disease intervention specialists have helped halt infectious disease outbreaks in America for decades, and this funding builds upon that expertise for a stronger, healthier America,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. “This critical investment to recruit and train the experts needed to end this pandemic and prevent the next one is part of our larger effort to rebuild public health infrastructure in the United States to ensure it can protect the health of all Americans for generations to come.”
With these resources, CDC will strengthen the DIS workforce so that the U.S. can continue to respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and other infectious diseases. Specifically, it will allow health departments to increase their capacity to conduct disease investigation (case investigation and contact tracing), linkage to prevention and treatment, case management and oversight, and outbreak response for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Complementing this initial funding, CDC also aims to 1) increase training opportunities for DIS to have the skills they need when they enter the field and 2) advance innovation in the way we deliver partner services.
DIS have been instrumental in their efforts to intervene in the spread of outbreaks of COVID-19 by using their tried and true methods developed over many years of work preventing sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis, HIV, TB and other infectious diseases. This increased funding will allow jurisdictions to expand, train, and sustain the DIS workforce to support COVID-19 prevention and response, including in state, tribal, local, or territorial health departments.