The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention landed a $13.8 million federal grant that will boost the state’s public health agency over the next five years, state officials announced Thursday.

The five-year grant is part of a $3.14 billion effort by the U.S. CDC to invest in public health departments across the country, using American Rescue Plan dollars that were part of the federal effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This award allows the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to sustain and add positions that will continue to be critical in the years to come and invest in the long-term health and safety of Maine people,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Maine’s health and human services commissioner, and Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, in a joint statement.

Jackie Farwell, Maine DHHS spokeswoman, said that some of the grant funding will be used “to extend 17 existing positions established with an earlier federal grant for workforce development. Those positions include public health educators, program and project coordinators, as well as environmental toxicologists and an environmental epidemiologist to focus on PFAS.”

The Maine CDC employs about 400 people. The agency had been slashed to 333 employees under former Gov. Paul LePage, but Gov. Janet Mills has been rebuilding the workforce since she first took office in January 2019. Mills defeated LePage in the November election to win a second four-year term.

According to a news release, the five-year grant “will support existing and expanded public health positions in key areas, including infectious disease, maternal and child health, chronic disease and injury prevention, environmental health, local public health, and access to health care services.”

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