“MRC units have proven to be invaluable in support of public health and emergency preparation and response long before the pandemic, but especially during this crisis,” said NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Lori Tremmel Freeman.
Report highlights 800,000+ hours of MRC volunteer support to address the COVID-19 pandemic
Washington, DC, November 24, 2021 — The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the voice of the country’s nearly 3,000 local health departments, recently released the 2020 Network Profile of the Medical Reserve Corps report, which provides a snapshot of the MRC network and illustrates the pivotal role that MRC units have played in support of public health, especially during COVID-19 pandemic response.
In fiscal year 2020 alone, 200,000 MRC volunteers contributed over 820,000 hours in support of COVID-19 pandemic response and other missions, including natural disaster and other large-scale events that included multiple agencies. They also provided critical capacity to the pandemic effort, through short-and long-term support for call centers, testing sites, contact tracing, infection prevention, personal protective equipment distribution and fit testing, as well as vaccination clinics. This is more than double the number of annual hours reported in 2017.
They did so with minimal financial support, including a full third of units without any funding. Nearly two-thirds of units noted that funding was a barrier to expanding their support efforts. Over time, median funding for MRC units has gone down, with units serving small communities seeing the largest reductions (a 69% decrease from 2013).
“MRC units have proven to be invaluable in support of public health and emergency preparation and response long before the pandemic, but especially during this crisis,” said NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Lori Tremmel Freeman. “As this report shows, the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for and benefits of this capable, ready, and responsive volunteer workforce.”
Created in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a network of over 200,000 MRC volunteers supports the health and safety of communities across the country and serves as local responders to public health emergencies. Nearly 20 years after its formation, the MRC network continues to provide vital, cost-saving workforce support to local health departments. For example, 84% of units supported COVID-19 response or mitigation efforts and 89% are prepared to support medical Points of Dispensing or mass vaccination.
With 64% of MRC units housed in local health departments, MRC volunteers are a vital resource for health departments to fulfill their mission in creating healthier, more resilient communities. Nearly all (91%) of units are integrated into their sponsoring organization or local jurisdiction’s emergency preparedness and response plan. In examining non-emergency capabilities, 82% of units provided community trainings, 81% participated in personal/family preparedness campaigns or promoted National Preparedness Month, 76% of units provided medical support through health clinics or first aid administration, and 67% supported annual flu vaccination campaigns.
The full report can be viewed here: https://www.naccho.org/uploads/header-images/public-health-preparedness/NACCHO-Network-Profile-MRC-2020.pdf.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the country ’s nearly 3,000 local health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. For more information about NACCHO, please visit www.naccho.org.