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When Kim Ward was sworn in as Westmoreland County Commissioner in 2008, one of her first questions was: who oversees the county health department?
The former respiratory therapist was stunned to learn that there was none.
Westmoreland, like 61 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, leaves the issue of public health to the state. Only four cities in the state have their own health services. This reality of the state’s public health infrastructure would come back to haunt and frustrate local officials 12 years after Ward asked his question, when the coronavirus pandemic arrived in early 2020.
The “haves” with their own health services have the kind of authority and information needed to act quickly to protect residents throughout the pandemic. But it was especially necessary at first, said Ward, a Hempfield …
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- According to the source Pandemic exposes weakness in Pennsylvania counties without health services, like Westmoreland
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