BEAVER, Pa. (KDKA) — Beaver County officials are now looking into creating their own health department.
The conversation started as the board of commissioners reflected on the last few months and realized all the decisions had to come from the state.
“We believe that having another set of eyes on what’s happening here on the ground is positive because the Commonwealth is a very large area for one department to see the difference between Beaver County and Philadelphia,” said Commissioner Daniel Camp.
While the county currently has 634 positive coronavirus cases, the board of commissioners is exploring options to create Beaver County’s own health department.
Camp told KDKA the county’s law office is currently looking into the costs of creating a department and exploring co-op opportunities with other counties.
“The law does say you have to be connected with the county you are participating with. So Beaver County, if they wanted to have it with Washington, Greene could be included because they are touching each other,” Camp said.
A driving force behind this move is the outbreak of cases at Brighton Rehab and Wellness Center, which has over 300 cases and nearly 80 deaths.
“Brighton Rehab was ultimately, from what I believe, the worst nursing home outbreak in Pennsylvania and one of the worst in the United States. And for us not to get attention from the Department of Health until the end was a lack of oversight from the Department of Health,” Camp said.
Camp believes a regional partnership would cut down the costs and allow local leaders to make reopening decisions if another shutdown were to occur.
The idea first came about on a regional call and officials with Allegheny County were listening, according to Camp.
“Seeing if Allegheny County would like to support their neighboring counties, to see if they would let their neighboring counties join them. They have something established and it would be a smoother transition and we could join them,” Camp said.
The process is still in its infancy stages with no formal partnerships established.
If the idea would move to the next steps, Camp said it’s possible residents may vote for it at the polls.