Pa. grants Delaware County’s first health department final approval

People stand outside of a building with a banner that reads,

File photo: A Yeadon COVID-19 vaccine site has become the headquarters for the new Delaware County Public Health department. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

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The Pennsylvania Department of Health has finally issued the certificate of approval for the long-awaited Delaware County Health Department.

A spokesperson for the state agency told WHYY News that approval was granted on Monday.

“The process of applying for and being approved for a new county health department is comprehensive and often involves multiple correspondence back and forth between the county and the state to ensure that all critical information is provided and required actions are completed,” the statement read.

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The County Council sent written notice to all 49 municipalities on March 3. Thirty days after that notification, the county Health Department will be considered officially established and able to exercise its powers as a new governmental body — which means April 2 is the official start date.

With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, Delaware County made headlines for being not only the largest county without a health department in Pennsylvania, but also the largest in the country. There has been a concerted effort to change that by the County Council, which has been all Democratic since January 2020. (Republicans, who had dominated the council since the Civil War era, had for decades pushed back on the notion that Delco needed its own department.)

Last year, county officials cut the ribbon on a Yeadon vaccine site that would become headquarters for the new department. Several months later, the county established a Board of Health. More recently, the council selected Melissa Lyon to be the first health director and lead the department’s deployment of what is known as the Public Health 3.0 model.

Though the county presented its final pitch to the state in December in anticipation of a January start, the process took longer than initially expected, so the Health Department has had a “soft launch.”

Now, full achievement of the goal appears to be in sight. WHYY News reached out to county officials for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

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