Unprecedented Flexibility with New CDC Public Health Funding

Between Baltimore City and the the State Department of Health, Maryland is set to receive $55.5M in CDC funding for public health infrastructure.

nurse with stethoscopeThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) has allocated $3.2B in American Rescue Plan Act(ARPA) money through a grant program for public health infrastructure. In Baltimore City this will add about $1.7M per year for the next five years. The annual budget for the Baltimore Health Department is $200M, and has a direct staff of about 740 individuals, according to an article by the Baltimore Banner.

From the article, Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association and a former Maryland health secretary:

In some ways this is a drop in the bucket when it’s all divided up, but almost $8.5 million over five years dedicated to public health infrastructure is not a bad idea.

While the funding might represent a drop in the bucket it is uniquely flexible by comparison to the majority of grant funds, which is an opportunity pointed out by many local and national public health experts.

In a press release, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., M.P.H. states, “This grant gives these agencies critical funding and flexibility to build and reinforce the nation’s public health workforce and infrastructure, and protect the populations they serve. We are meeting them where they are and trusting them to know what works best for their communities.”

According to Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, in a Baltimore City press release:

This grant supports direct spending on much-needed resources that invest in our depleted workforce following the aftermath of the pandemic. We will use this important funding for public health infrastructure allowing us to establish more resilient internal systems, processes, and protocols.

The press release from Baltimore City noted the flexibility of the funding will also allow for new contract and grant management software, as well as funding for position recruitment and retention support for a workforce that has historically been underpaid in comparison to the private sector.

Counties will also be receive funding from the $47M CDC grant awarded to the Maryland Department of Health as part of this recent allocation of ARPA funds.

A quote from Chase Cook, a department spokesman:

Maryland is reviewing the award. Per the federal grant stipulations, 40% of the workforce award will be distributed to local health departments.

Read the full Baltimore Banner article.

Read the Baltimore City press release.

Read the CDC press release.