The COVID-19 relief package signed by the president provides $73 billion, and many directions, to the Department of Health and Human Services. This pot of funds covers COVID-19 activities for the Center for Disease Control, National Institute for Health, and perhaps most importantly, development and distribution of vaccines and medical supplies.
The bulk of these funds, at nearly $50 billion, are made available to the “Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund.” This is a substantial bump up from the $27 billion provided in the CARES Act last March. Similar to the CARES Act, funds are directed at both the Strategic National Stockpile, which supplements state and local purchases of medical supplies, like ventilators and N-95 masks, and at efforts to develop and distribute vaccines. In addition, the bill directs $22.4 billion specifically for state, local, and tribal efforts at contact tracing, testing, and monitoring of COVID-19. Funds from the CARES act could be used for these activities, if not tied to other specific programs, but now Congress is specifically directing these funds.
With the increased investment in vaccine purchase and distribution comes increased reporting requirements. The bill requires HHS begin a monthly report on Operation Warp Speed detailing all contracts, grants, or other transactions over $20 million. They have 30 days to produce the first report (January 27, 2021).
|Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund||December COVID bill ($ millions)
|CARES Act ($ millions)
|Strategic National Stockpile||3,250||16,000|
|Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority – Manufacturing and purchase of vaccines and treatments||19,695||3,500|
|Contact tracing, testing, mitigation, and monitoring||22,400||Not specified|