WASHINGTON (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s public health sector will soon be getting a financial boost from the CDC and American Rescue Plan Act.

U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen David Cicilline and James Langevin announced more than $11.6 million in federal funds to help the state strengthen its public health infrastructure and workforce.

The congressional delegation said the funding will be used to hire more staff such as community health workers, epidemiologists, and laboratory scientists, as well as increase the availability of public health data and improve community partnerships. The goal, they said, is to make the state better equipped to handle future outbreaks or pandemics.

“We need to take the lessons learned over the last two-plus years and build a stronger, better-prepared public health system that will not only be able to care for Rhode Islanders, but also provide the necessary and much-deserved support to our frontline health workers,” Cicilline said.

The delegation said the funding must be used within the next five years.