45: Infection Control Funding

Janet Hamilton, Executive Director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists explains how $2 billion in CDC funds will help hospitals and healthcare facilities fight infections; Jonathan Wolfe, ASTHO’s Senior Director of Content...

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Janet Hamilton, Executive Director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, explains how $2 billion in CDC funds will help hospitals and healthcare facilities fight infections; Jonathan Wolfe, ASTHO’s Senior Director of Content Development and Communications, highlights the value of attending ASTHO's next Insight and Inspiration conversation on October 20th; ASTHO publishes a new blog article examining how "long COVID" has changed federal and local workplace policy; and we feature three ASTHO job openings.

CDC News Release: CDC to invest $2.1 billion to protect patients and healthcare workers from COVID-19 and future infectious diseases

Website: The Council for Outbreak Response - Healthcare-Associated Infections and Antimicrobial-Resistant Pathogens

ASTHO Blog Article: Long COVID causes health policy shifts across states

ASTHO Webpage: Insight and Inspiration

ASTHO Webpage: Job opportunities in public health and at ASTHO

ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Wednesday, October 13th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.

Here's today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.


The CDC says healthcare-related infections are up during the pandemic. Now, it's sending more than $2 billion to help hospitals and healthcare facilities reverse the trend. Almost $900 million of the total is going out this month, more than half of that to create state-based nursing home and long-term care strike teams.

Janet Hamilton is the executive director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. She talks about the impact of the funds in today's morning conversation.

What is the significance of this investment for hospitals and healthcare facilities?


This money is really a historic investment to improve infection prevention and control activities across the U.S. public health system and healthcare sectors.

I think the other thing that's really true about the funds is that it demonstrates a real sincere commitment that will allow expansion of public health as well as to improve the quality of healthcare in our country, including addressing healthcare-related inequities.

Another piece that I'll just bring out is that really, tragically in the face of COVID-19, this past year marked an extraordinary time for healthcare facilities. They were facing extreme circumstances around patient caseloads, staffing challenges, and really trying to rapidly adapt and change and implement operational changes into their daily flows and practices. And while those were, of course, incredibly necessary, they also actually reduced implementation of normal infection prevention practices.

And so, those stressors and impacts have been real and we've seen them felt in terms of more healthcare-associated infections. And there's actually been a number of recent studies that have shown substantial increases in healthcare-associated infections during the pandemic, including for central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, ventilator-associated events, and MRSA.

So, there really is an immediate and urgent need to strengthen infection prevention and control capacities now during this pandemic, as well as enhance our commitment to regain our national prevention progress.


No doubt about the need for the money.

How do you think recipients will spend it? What will they do with it?


Yeah, that's a good question, and we're really lucky that these funds are substantial and will allow jurisdictions to really meet important needs. The investment is designed really to help in four key areas.

I think, first, really assisting healthcare personnel to prevent infections more effectively in healthcare settings, to support a rapid response to detect and contain infectious organisms and outbreaks, to enhance our laboratory capacity, and then really to engage in innovation and targeted strategies around combating infectious disease threats.

And the money will be used across several healthcare settings, really the healthcare continuum. So, there's funds to support hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities, dialysis clinics, as well as public health.

I will highlight that the first traunch of money is really going to be used to support state-based nursing home and long-term care strike teams; and those strike teams will be able to staff up, train, and then deploy to assist with COVID-19 associated outbreaks.



Also today, many ASTHO members are grappling with employment policies because of long COVID, a condition that impacts almost one-third of those contracting the virus and can make it tough for many to return to work.

ASTHO explains changes to federal guidance in a new resource. It covers disability assistance and workers' compensation. The blog article also highlights policy changes at the state and territorial levels.

There's a link to the article in the show notes.


One week from today, don't miss the chance to be inspired.

ASTHO's next Insight and Inspiration conversation is set for Wednesday, October 20th. The speaker is Sebastian Junger, a journalist and author, considering the parallels between the military and pandemic front lines.

Jonathan Wolfe is ASTHO's senior director of content development and communications. He attended the first conversation with retired Lieutenant General Nadja West, and makes the case for signing up.


The pandemic has tested the resilience of all of us, whether you work in public health or not. You know, we've had industry shutdown, and lives upended, and loved ones sick, and it's just been a really difficult year and a half for everybody, regardless of where you're coming from.

And these sessions really just bring super bright leaders to the table with, you know, great real-world experiences of how we can collectively pull through this together. So, I think that's just going to be tremendous to everyone, whether you're in public health or not.



Finally this morning, ASTHO is ready to hire people inspired to work in public health.

Openings include a position as a contract specialist and another as a senior analyst for state health policy. There's also a need for a specialist in media relations and social media.


Find a link to the ASTHO careers webpage and the Insight and Inspiration registration page in the show notes.


Also, remember to follow us on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or listen on Alexa or Google assistant.

And, if you have a minute, please take time to leave us a rating and a review.


Join us tomorrow morning for more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition.

Jonathan Wolfe

Senior Director, Communications and Content, ASTHO

Janet Hamilton MPH

Executive Director, Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists