New jobs program will provide newly unemployed with stable incomes and benefits, training for contact tracing, COVID-19 testing, containment efforts

Legislation requires CDC to establish national contact tracing, testing plan

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) to introduce legislation that will create a massive new jobs program to help states across the country recruit, train, and hire more than a million workers to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). As states and cities slowly begin to reopen and strengthen their COVID-19 mitigation and containment efforts, the Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act aims to provide newly unemployed Americans with jobs in the growing public health care sector.

“The coronavirus pandemic has created the greatest health threat in a generation and triggered the worst jobs crisis since the Great Depression. We must protect the health of all Americans by limiting the spread of this virus,” Klobuchar said. “This new legislation will provide stable jobs for newly unemployed workers while expanding testing, contact tracing, and other critical measures needed to effectively combat this virus.”

“With nearly 40 million people unemployed, we need solutions that meet the scale of the problem,” Schatz said. “Our bill will put people back to work and provide the workforce we need to stop the spread of the coronavirus and help us safely reopen.”

In addition to Klobuchar and Schatz, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

The Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act will:

•           Require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish and implement a national evidence-based system for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, surveillance, containment, and mitigation;

•           Provide $100 billion in grants to state and local governments to hire, train, and deploy newly unemployed workers to perform pandemic response work in their communities;

          Work can include contact tracing, surveillance, containment, mitigation, and cleaning;

•           Ensure workers are paid with the prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits in their state or city as outlined by the Service Contract Act;

•           Ensure that unemployment insurance systems, workforce development boards, and community organizations collaborate to bring awareness to the program and encourage unemployed workers to apply; and

•           Require the CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration to provide guidance and technical assistance on standards and protocols to ensure that workers are properly trained, can perform their work safely, and that the work that is done through this program will have a robust impact in preventing COVID-19 outbreaks.