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Warren, Levin introduce legislation for federal contact tracing program

The Hill logo The Hill 5/14/2020 Zack Budryk
Elizabeth Warren wearing a purple shirt: Warren, Levin introduce legislation for federal contact tracing program © UPI Photo Warren, Levin introduce legislation for federal contact tracing program

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) on Thursday introduced legislation that would establish a federal coronavirus contact tracing program, calling for it to be incorporated into the next relief package to pass Congress.

The legislation, co-sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a national contact tracing strategy within 21 days in collaboration with state, local and tribal health officials.

It would also require the CDC to include provisions that prevent misusing patient data, anonymize data and ensure automatic data deletion and prohibit data-sharing within the federal government except within the CDC and Indian Health Service.

The legislation would provide $10 billion in funding to states and Native American tribes to hire more than 100,000 tracers and other support personnel. It would also provide $500 million to state and tribal hiring agencies to find a hiring pool for the tracers, prioritizing those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

"To confront a national crisis, we need a proactive nationwide strategy -- and the Trump Administration is failing to come up with one," said Warren. "Our legislation will massively expand our health care workforce to trace and prevent COVID-19, make sure states and localities have the support they need, and provide robust privacy protections to ensure Americans' personal data and health information is protected. It is critical to stopping the virus dead in its tracks, keeping our communities healthy, and getting our economy up and running."

"The Coronavirus Containment Corps harnesses the same imagination and ingenuity of FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps to move our country past this pandemic while making a major investment in the American workforce," Levin said. "Senator Warren's and my plan provides a way out of this emergency while the Trump Administration refuses to provide a roadmap. We mustn't delay-workers suffer the longer our country goes without a national contact tracing strategy."

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