USDA Deploys 301 Disaster, Public Health Specialists to Assist with Federal Response

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2021 — In January 2021, President Biden released the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. The plan is driven by science, data, and public health to improve the effectiveness of our nation’s fight against COVID-19 and to restore trust, accountability and a sense of common purpose in our response to the pandemic.

The National Strategy provides a roadmap to guide America out of the worst public health crisis in a century. It is organized around seven goals:

  1. Restore trust with the American people.
  2. Mount a safe, effective, and comprehensive vaccination campaign.
  3. Mitigate spread through expanding masking, testing, data, treatments, health care workforce, and clear public health standards.
  4. Immediately expand emergency relief and exercise the Defense Production Act.
  5. Safely reopen schools, businesses, and travel while protecting workers.
  6. Protect those most at risk and advance equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines.
  7. Restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness for future threats.

The plan calls on all parts of the federal government to contribute its resources–facilities, personnel, and expertise–to contain the pandemic. Chief among the efforts is a whole-of-government response to stand up new federally supported community vaccination centers across the country.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responding to the President’s call to action. In addition to personnel, USDA is offering its facilities, cold chain infrastructure, public health experts, disaster response specialists, and footprint in rural areas and Tribal communities across the country. Here are the some of the ways USDA is working alongside our federal partners to contain the pandemic and get our economy back on track.

Programmatic Announcements

  • Feb. 17: From February 8-12, USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) approved Pandemic EBT to support children who are missing school meals due to closures in Minnesota, and Wisconsin. For the 2020-2021 school year, USDA has provided $5.9 billion in Pandemic EBT benefits to 7.1 million children in 15 states and territories.
  • Feb. 17: USDA FNS has approved 47 states and territories for emergency allotments in SNAP, totaling $2,033,734,872 for the month of February 2021. FNS also approved one state for emergency allotments totaling $55,595,754 for the month of March 2021.

Personnel Deployments

301 Personnel Deployments to Date (Feb. 16, 2021)

  • The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has deployed 119 employees, including 92 employees to Nevada and Oklahoma to administer vaccinations at a variety of rapid points of distribution including mobile teams and pop-up clinics; 8 employees to Dallas; 4 employees to Oregon; 6 employees to Washington State to assist in planning vaccination efforts; and 9 employees to support FEMA.
  • The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has dispatched 4 veterinarians to assist with vaccination in Nevada and Oklahoma.
  • The USDA Forest Service has deployed 174 Incident Management Team personnel and they are currently assigned to the National COVID Vaccine Campaign staffing vaccination centers, providing logistical support, planning at regional/state levels with FEMA and states, and more.
  • 4 U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officers detailed to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are assisting with logistical support for the vaccination campaign.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

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