February 03, 2021

Warren, Levin Reintroduce Legislation to Create Coronavirus Containment Corps

Text of bill (pdf) 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Congressman Andy Levin (D-Mich.) along with Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), reintroduced legislation to create a federal contact tracing workforce to stop the spread of COVID-19 and put unemployed Americans back to work in their communities. Since the Great Recession, roughly 50,000 public health jobs have been lost, and public health departments are severely underfunded. Contact tracing is more urgent than ever to understand and stop in real-time new variants of the virus and support staff can pivot to vaccine outreach as more become available.

"Even as vaccine distribution is underway, contact tracing and aggressive COVID-19 testing remain critical tools for ending the pandemic," said Sen. Warren. "This is why I'm reintroducing the Coronavirus Containment Corps Act with Congressman Andy Levin to expand our health care workforce to trace and help prevent further spread of COVID-19, get states and localities the support they need, and standardize robust privacy protections while we do this work in order to protect Americans' personal data and health information."

"Senator Warren and I developed this plan last spring as we realized there simply weren't enough contact tracers in the United States to mount the response this pandemic necessitated. Unfortunately, the last administration did nothing to fill these gaps and the pandemic continues to ravage our communities," said Rep. Levin. "The Coronavirus Containment Corps Act is more than a health imperative: it's a plan to put Americans back to work. Our proposal would leverage the existing workforce system to connect unemployed individuals with employment opportunities and long-term employment after the pandemic, using the system that's already in place to do this quickly and efficiently. Our bill also makes clear that we need to hire folks from the communities in which they will work and who reflect the diversity and speak the languages of those communities, critical to building public trust. I am grateful to Chairman Bobby Scott for his support of this important bill." 

The key component of the Coronavirus Containment Corps Act-the funds and directives to workforce agencies-was included in both versions of the Heroes Act. The lawmakers are calling for the legislation to be included in the upcoming COVID-19 response package from Congress.