HARRISBURG (KDKA) — Gov. Tom Wolf announced the creation of the Commonwealth Civilian Coronavirus Corps Wednesday during a news conference with state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.

Under the plan, civilian workers would be part of testing and tracing COVID-19 cases.

That would begin this fall.

The governor says it’ll provide a work opportunity for those who are unemployed and get testing capacity up to levels that will allow the economy to fully re-open.

In a press release, Gov. Tom Wolf said: “Our highest priority remains protecting public health and safety, but we must also look ahead to see how we can address future needs. To reopen our economy to its maximum potential, we will need to boost our ability to contain this highly transmissible virus. The Commonwealth Civilian Coronavirus Corps will serve as a public service program that will expand our ability to conduct contact tracing and testing and mobilize Pennsylvanians to contain COVID-19.”

The new group would be responsible for:

  • 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.

Gov. Wolf says even with more testing and tracing, people will still need to wear masks and practice social distancing.

He also says big crowd events, like at sporting events and concerts, may not be possible for quite a while.

More information on the Coronavirus pandemic: