Delaware County to open its first-ever public health department

The Delaware County Health Department will be operating under a $10 million budget.
MEDIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Nearly two years after the first identified COVID-19 case in Delaware County, the stage is set for its first-ever public health department, led by Melissa Lyon, who will serve as the county health director.

"Delaware County can only benefit from a strong robust health department," said Lyon. "There's no downside to this."

Officials said the department is awaiting final approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Health but could be up and running as soon as April 1.

The county, which serves about 576,000 residents, has operated throughout the entire pandemic without a health department.

"I think it's concerning because who are we going to depend on?" asked Jen Petrella. "But I think it's good that now we have one that can kind of be more specific to Delaware county residents."

Lyon said the lack of department put the county at a disadvantage when responding to the coronavirus.

"It was just a lack of good data for the decisions to be made," said Lyon. "That's one of the values of the health department. We'll have access to this data as real-time as possible."

The leadership team contains six people with divisions focusing on environmental, personal, and population health. Officials said they will be digging into data, identifying communities that need more assistance, and rolling out robust plans.

"We'll be conducting compliance inspections. We will be enforcing public health codes, state codes, we will do routine based inspections, and we will do routine based inspections," said Marie Carbonara, administrator of the Division of Environmental Health.

The Delaware County Health Department will be operating under a $10 million budget.

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