By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

The CDC says it will invest billions of dollars over several years to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and improve infection control and prevention for the future.

Starting in October, and progressing over the next three years, the agency will invest $1.25 billion of American Rescue Plan funds to dozens of state, local, and territorial health departments. The first outlay will center on what the CDC calls “strike teams” to assist nursing homes and long-term care facilities manage known or suspected COVID-19 outbreaks.

“The strike teams will allow jurisdictions to provide surge capacity to facilities for clinical services; address staffing shortages at facilities; and strengthen infection prevention and control activities to prevent, detect, and contain outbreaks, including support for COVID-19 vaccine boosters,” the agency explained.

The rest of the early funding will be made to boost antibiotic stewardship, expand laboratory capacity, and improve early detection and prevention across all settings. These funds also will support Project Frontline, a key education initiative in this area, and the National Healthcare Safety Network, to improve critical data collection and monitoring.

“Funding will provide significant resources to our public health departments and healthcare systems and opportunities to develop innovative strategies to protect every segment of the U.S. population, especially those disproportionately affected by the pandemic, at a time that they are hit hard,” CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, said.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) called this “an important down payment to build the necessary infrastructure to effectively combat drug-resistant infections.” However, the group notes all these funds originate in a one-off emergency appropriations package, which could create “a funding cliff that will halt these activities if sustainable annual funding is not provided.”

“IDSA continues to urge the administration and Congress to work together to ensure these efforts are maintained and expanded as necessary to address the growing threat of AMR [antimicrobial resistance]. IDSA looks forward to working with policymakers on other aspects of the comprehensive national response to AMR, including strengthening the infectious diseases workforce and revitalizing the antibiotic pipeline,” the group said in a statement.

For more on this and related subjects, be sure to read the latest issues of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention and Infectious Disease Alert.