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Federal health officials on Friday announced a $2.1 billion investment to strengthen prevention and control measures against COVID-19 and others infectious disease in the public health care sector.

Funding from the American Rescue Plan will be available to help nursing homes hire additional staff, increase all types of vaccination rates (such as influenza and COVID-19), and strengthen infection control, said the center’s director, Dr. Rochelle Valensky said during a White House briefing for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed tremendous stress on the healthcare sector, from hospitals to nursing homes to outpatient clinics,” Valensky said, noting that several studies have shown significant increases in healthcare-related infections amid the pandemic. The increase has demonstrated “major national reversal of progress made before 2020.”

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He said infection control measures are important in nursing homes and hospitals caring for high-risk patients. The funding announced Friday also includes a three-year plan to release $1.25 billion to 64 state, local and regional health departments to enhance laboratory capacity for detecting infectious threats, training and tracking infections in real time.

“Infection prevention and control saves lives in the healthcare sector, whether by stopping the spread of SARS-COV-2 and preventing the spread of many other infectious diseases, such as drug-resistant infections,” Valensky said. “Ensuring that health care settings have the necessary resources to prevent infection is critical to ending this pandemic and preventing future ones.”

Most of the initial funding by October, some $500 million, will be allocated to building so-called “strike teams” to help nursing homes, long-term care facilities and others respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.