Schatz Introduces Legislation To Create Massive New Jobs Program To Hire, Train Up To 1.5 Million Workers To Fight COVID-19 Outbreaks, Help States Safely Reopen

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 Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) today introduced new 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. As states and cities slowly begin to reopen and strengthen their COVID-19 mitigation and containment efforts, Schatz’s Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act aims to provide newly unemployed Americans with jobs in the growing public health care sector.

“With nearly 40 million people unemployed, we need solutions that meet the scale of the problem,” said Senator Schatz. “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.”

Schatz’s bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

“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,” said Senator Klobuchar. “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.”

“The pandemic has turned our economy upside down, leaving millions out of work. It has also created urgent needs to be filled if we’re going to safely reopen more of the country,” said Senator Whitehouse. “We’re calling for a national mobilization that redeploys Americans’ talents to fighting the spread of the coronavirus and serving their communities in this unprecedented moment of need.”

“We are in the middle of a public health crisis that has turned into an economic one. Our policies must meet the needs of the current moment, and that means getting creative about how we get people back to work. Glad to co-sponsor this important legislation that will help improve public health and give people good paying jobs,” said Senator Harris.

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.

###