The following announcement was provided by the office of Congresswoman Katherine Clark:
Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Katherine Clark (MA-5) invited public health officials from across Massachusetts’ Fifth District — including Watertown’s Health Director — as her virtual guests to the State of the Union address on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
She met virtually with her guests ahead of President Biden’s address to thank them for their selfless work throughout the pandemic and discuss how the American Rescue Plan’s investments in local government, COVID-19 mitigation, and public health generally helped to keep their communities protected and safe.
“Throughout the pandemic, our incredible town and city public health officials have continued to put community before self, risking their own health to protect their neighbors from COVID-19. This is an opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to these officials and all our health care heroes,” said Assistant Speaker Clark. “President Biden and Congressional Democrats knew that these local officials would be on the frontlines of the crisis, and that’s why we put health care investments at the top of our agenda in Washington. Only weeks after President Biden was sworn into office, we enacted the American Rescue Plan. It has enabled our cities and towns to provide COVID-19 testing and conduct contact tracing, allowed state and local governments to hire more staff, provided vital PPE, and so much more. I am honored to invite these hometown heroes to be my virtual guests to the State of the Union to applaud their service and bring attention to their sacrifices.”
Watertown Health Director Larry Ramdin said he was very thankful for the funds that the City received director from the federal government.
“We were able to do testing in town instead of having seniors travel who had several mobility problems. In fact, when we looked at access to vaccination or testing sites, it would take someone close to 1- 2 hours to get there by public transportation,” Ramdin said. “Additionally, we were able to provide increased allocations to food banks, hire local contact tracers, and provide mental health services for those who needed them. We have to recognize the invaluable work that local public health officials do — we are the boots on the ground. This funding helped us do our jobs and recognized the role we play.”
The American Rescue Plan provided:
- $350 billion to states, territories, Tribes, and local governments:
- MA received a total of $8.1 billion: $4.5 billion to state government and $3.6 billion to local governments
- Funds could be used for responding to the public health emergency, to offset revenue losses, bolster economic recovery, and provide premium pay for essential workers.
- $10 billion for a Critical Infrastructure Projects program to help states, territories, and Tribal governments carry out critical capital projects directly enabling work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to COVID-19.
- $7.6 billion for public health departments to hire 100,000 full-time employees into the public health workforce.
- These positions include contact tracers, social support specialists, community health workers, public health nurses, epidemiologists, lab personnel, and communications.
- Funds were directed toward PPE, technology, data management, supplies, and reporting.