Chester County will stop helping Delaware County with its response to COVID-19 as of August 1.
Since Delaware County has no health department at the moment, it sought the aid of its sister county for testing and vaccinations. Delco paid Chesco for its services through federal COVID response (CARES Act) funds, according to Delaware County spokeswoman Adrienne Marofsky.
Delaware County’s new health department is expected to be operational in January 2022. In the meantime, the state Department of Health will resume the COVID-19 response in Delco and work with the county’s existing COVID-19 Task Force, which has been conducting testing and vaccinations, said Marofsky.
Meanwhile, applications for a director for the new Delaware County Health Department are being accepted through July 15. Interviews will be held in August.
As of July 2, Chester County, with a 2019 population of 524,989 had 33,729 positive cases and 815 deaths. Delaware County, population 566,747 as of 2019, had 45,777 positive cases and 1,462 deaths from COVID.
Last month, the Chester County Commissioners and Delaware County Council were honored by the Main Line Chamber of Commerce for the successful COVID-19 public health partnership. At the Chamber’s event, Commissioner Marian Moskowitz said, “The partnership between Chester and Delaware counties provided a focused public health response for everyone living and working in both counties. It worked because we all had one desire: To do everything that we could to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and to keep all of our residents as healthy as possible.
“It also worked because, when we asked our health department director Jeanne Franklin if her team had the capacity to support Delaware County, they replied that not only did they have the capacity, but they truly wanted to provide support if needed. For that, we all thank her and everyone on her team,” Moskowitz said.
Delaware County Council Chairman Brian Zidek said, “We owe the Chester County Health Department, the Chester County Commissioners, and their team a debt of gratitude. The assistance they provided was quite literally life-saving.”
The intergovernmental cooperation agreement between Chester and Delaware Counties, which began in March 2020, identified the responsibilities of the Chester County Health Department during the COVID-19 outbreak, officials said in a joint press release. Those responsibilities included coordination of testing, case investigation and surveillance, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine designations, vaccinations, and public health communication.
Throughout the pandemic, Franklin and her team also worked with Delaware County staff to support the pandemic challenges faced by long-term care facilities, hospitals, first responders, both county prisons and other congregate care settings, as well as the school districts in both counties.
“From the very start of our agreement with Delaware County, we were able to leverage the resources, assets, processes, and functions that we established within Chester County’s Health Operations Center,” Franklin said. “So while the population number we were serving more than doubled, our public health actions did not increase proportionately. And ultimately, it meant that more than one million people were able to benefit from a local, coordinated public health response at the time that it was needed most.”