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PA Governor Wants A Civilian Corps To Fight Coronavirus, Provide Jobs

PENNLIVE - Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf announced Wednesday his latest tactic to fight the spread of COVID-19, and he’s calling it the Commonwealth Civilian Coronavirus Corps.

It seems to mirror, at least in some ways, the Civilian Conservation Corps that was developed by the federal government during The Great Depression to provide work relief while completing environmental projects.

In Wolf’s iteration, the jobs would be related to increased testing and contact tracing efforts. Both are a key part of fully reopening the state by reaching the ‘green’ phase of Wolf’s plan to do so. Only 24 of the state’s 67 counties will move into the yellow phase Friday, and it’s unclear when others will advance there.

During a news conference, Wolf said he didn’t know how many people would be hired or when the corps would be formed, but that he wants it to be a big deal. As for how it would be financed, Wolf hopes that “special funding from the federal government” would help foot the bill, either partially or entirely. It’s unclear whether or not legislative approval would be needed to form the corps.
“By maximizing our testing and contact tracing capacity, we can contain COVID-19 without widely freezing the movements of Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said. “Effective containment will allow us to resume life as much as possible.”

A news release from Wolf’s office offered further information on how the corps could work and what things would be needed. The bullet-point list included:

  • Partnering with local public health agencies, community organizations, and the nonprofit community to expand Pennsylvania’s existing testing and contract tracing initiatives;
  • Leveraging additional resources to fund testing and contact tracing initiatives;
  • Exploring creative ways to recruit experienced Pennsylvanians with health care and public health experience to support this initiative; and
  • Coordinating existing resources deployed by the commonwealth, including community health nurses and county health departments who are currently conducting testing and contact tracing throughout the state.

PennLive and The Patriot-News are partners with PA Post.