Delaware County has a reputation for grittiness. Just ask the “Mare of Easttown.”
But the Delaware County Health Department’s new venture takes county government to a new, some say risqué, place.
The department announced a condom giveaway program for Valentine’s Day and National Condom Week: “Doing Delco Safely.” But what’s a condom or two between consenting adults?
Residents can order up to 10 free condoms to be mailed directly to them. They can also pick up condoms during business hours at the county Wellness Centers in Yeadon and Chester.
“Who knew the Delaware County Health Department had started to label its health initiatives in the style of 1970s porn flicks? What’s next, ‘Delco Throat’ to address respiratory infections during flu season?” quipped local pundit Christine Flowers.
“It’s both an embarrassment for the taxpayers that they think it’s cute to make a sexual double entendre under the guise of providing public services, and an insult to the victims of crime who are actually not able to ‘Do Delco Safely,’” she said.
Terry Tracy, president and CEO of Broad + Liberty and a Drexel Hill resident, said, “If the county council could figure out a way to a screw the Delco taxpayer as safely as they apparently hope we screw each other, perhaps we could just let their $20 million condom delivery service slide.”
Springfield resident Nichole Missino, who ran for state representative in 2022, said, “How about some free tampons?”
“Oh, my goodness, doesn’t Planned Parenthood do that?” she asked about the free condoms. “Why are we wasting taxpayer dollars for that?”
The county health department defended its program.
“Sexually transmitted infections increased in Delaware County and across the United States during the pandemic over the last few years,” said Delaware County Health Director Melissa Lyon. “The ‘Doing Delco Safely’ condom distribution program gives residents additional access to protection for themselves and their partners.”
This isn’t the Delco Health Department’s first walk on the wild side. One of the first people hired to conduct health code inspections previously worked at the Urban Sexuality Lab at Drexel University (USL). The facility “studies pleasurable, carnal, + queer cities, places, and spaces,” according to its Twitter page.
In a recent memo, USL director Jay Orne Ph.D. wrote, “Our lab studies carnality, bloody pleasure, heartfelt pain, the nebulous logic of our bodies past and future.”
A spokesman for the DCHD responded to this DVJournal story:
“The DCHD receives funding from state and federal partners to execute public health programming. The HIV Prevention grant is funded by two federal allocations and one state allocation totaling $509,469.64 for the grant year of 7/1/2022-6/30/2023.
“This grant in Delaware County is used to fund six public health employees’ salaries and fringes, medical supplies for testing and treatment, case management services for treatment, scheduling and medical records systems, training, program supplies (such as condoms), and educational materials.
“One of the evidence-based strategies that were recently highlighted and funded by this grant is the “Doing Delco Safely” free condom distribution program. This program is designed to remove barriers and increase access to condoms for all residents of Delaware County. Free condom distribution programs have been established in communities by public health departments for decades. It has been proven that access to condoms along with education about the proper and consistent use of condoms decreases sexually transmitted infections in communities.”