ILLINOIS (WEHT) – A news release says Illinois has been awarded $86 million in federal funding to strengthen the state’s public health workforce and infrastructure.

“The last two-plus years have underscored the critical, life-saving importance of our frontline public health workforce,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “We are very grateful to the CDC and the Biden Administration for this major infusion of federal funding that will strengthen efforts already underway at IDPH and with our local public health partners to prioritize health equity and create a more modern, resilient, and efficient public health department.”

Officials say the funding will support efforts to recruit, retain and train the public health workforce, including critical frontline workers such as epidemiologists, contact tracers, laboratory scientists, community health workers and data analysts.

IDPH says it will use the funding to create pipelines into critical public health positions, retain existing employees through efforts to reduce employee burnout, and provide a variety of training opportunities to improve workforce skills. Officials say the grant is intended to address urgent and ongoing public health needs in communities that are economically or socially marginalized, in rural communities and communities with people from racial and ethnic minority groups.

The news release says the department plans to make improvements in its fiscal systems and grant-making process, invest in a department-wide quality improvement system, and upgrade its ability to analyze data through an equity lens to aid programmatic decision-making intended to address health disparities. Officials say the funding will also support IDPH’s modernization of its data system to integrate the latest technologies and approaches to improve public health surveillance.