Chester, PA – January 19, 2021 – Ten Delaware County legislators have signed a letter to Governor Wolf, asking the Governor to allocate $10 million in Act 315 funds in the 2021-22 budget to support the establishment of a Delaware County health department. State Senators John Kane (SD-9), Amanda M. Cappelletti (SD-17), Tim Kearney (SD-26), Anthony H. Williams (SD-8) and state Representatives David Delloso (HD-162), Brian Kirkland (HD-159), Leanne Krueger (HD-161), Jennifer O’Mara (HD-165), Greg Vitali (HD-166), and Mike Zabel (HD-163) signed on to the letter, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as “[laying] bare the critical importance of country public health departments in public health preparedness.”
“Delaware County is the largest county in the entire country without a health department,” said Senator Kane. “During the worst pandemic our nation has ever seen, Delco residents are lacking the critical resources and infrastructure a health department would provide. Creating a health department is essential to supporting the community and increasing health equity for all of Delco’s residents, and I’m glad it’s a top priority for so many of us in the legislature.”
Senator Cappelletti echoed the urgency of the pandemic in the need for a health department. “Delaware County needs a health department as soon as possible. The residents are not receiving needed services from their own county during this pandemic, which is leading to confusion. In a time when we are rolling out an historic vaccine, Delaware County needs a health department to ensure healthy and safety of its citizens.”
State Representative O’Mara expressed her gratitude for the Chester County Health Department, which has been supporting the county through the pandemic. “We have been most grateful for the outstanding job and incredible collaboration of the Chester County Health Department to work with us in our hour of need, and to continue that care over the last 10 months,” said Representative O’Mara. “However, CCHD should not have to be responsible for the health needs of more than 500,000 residents in a neighboring county. Delaware County is one of the most densely populated counties in the commonwealth and has one of the highest COVID-19 case rates. The need for our own health department has never been more apparent.”
The full text of the letter is below:
For the last nine months, the COVID-19 pandemic has consumed our communities, and laid bare the critical importance of county public health departments in public health preparedness, responsiveness, and equity. Nowhere is this clearer than here in Delaware County. Delaware County is the largest county in the entire country without a health department. Since the pandemic began, over 30,000 Delaware County residents have contracted COVID-19, and nearly 1,000 have lost their lives. Counties with public health department had the staff, resources, and expertise to coordinate care and provide resources for their residents. Lacking a health department, Delaware County was left unprepared and underserved.
Creating a health department in Delaware County is a critical public policy issue, and a policy undertaking of this nature is at the very core of what public service should be about. It is our responsibility to improve the lives and health of our constituents. For too long, lacking a health department, Delaware County residents have suffered. In order to be adequately prepared for public health emergencies, and to improve the overall health of Delaware County residents, we urge you to provide Delaware County with an additional $10 million in Act 315 funds in the proposed 2021-22 budget to establish a county health department.
This initiative is a top budget priority for us. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the lack of critical infrastructure to help Delaware County residents when they needed it most. Creating a county health department in Delaware County is essential to improving health equity and providing our constituents with the best possible health care, programs, and services they need to live healthy lives.