Commissioner says COVID-19 shows need for a county health department


LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced on Tuesday there has been a total of 490 cases of COVID-19 in Lancaster County.

County commissioners haven’t made any criticisms regarding how the pandemic is being handled yet, but without any health experts working in the county government, there’s a majority feeling more could be done.

“If we can do more, we want to do more,” Commissioner Ray D’Agostino said.

D’Agostino suggested the county create an interim public health liaison this week. He says the liaison would advise commissioners on decisions regarding health.

“I was talking to our emergency management director today and he acknowledged that it could be good for someone to provide that advice, someone who has that background information could be helpful going forward,” D’Agostino said.

Commissioner Craig Lehman said he supports the idea, adding that a conversation about a county health department should be included.

“I think we’re going to see more public issues going forward, and that’s one main reason to create permanent capacity,” Lehman said.

Lehman qualified, however, saying now is not the time to create the health department, but there should be a serious talk about opening a public health department later in the spring.

“It would help us be prepared for any resurgence of COVID-19 later this fall and then it would help us be better prepared for anything in the future,” he said.

Lehman said federal funding could jumpstart the conversation of creating a county health department, funding that covers costs associated with COVID-19.

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