Alleging the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has failed its residents and harmed its businesses during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the West Covina City Council in a split decision this week voted to begin the process of forming its own health department.
The move would eventually free the 16-square-mile city of about 110,000 residents from health mandates handed down by the county’s health department — such as bar and restaurant closures related to COVID-19 — but not until it creates a department of its own that meets state health requirements. It would not free the city from state health mandates.
The move comes at a time when various small cities in the area have expressed interest in going it alone on health matters, as differences of opinion over pandemic-related shutdowns have caused tensions and disagreements at the municipal level. West Covina could be a test case for them to watch.
During Tuesday’s at times contentious hearing, Mayor Letty Lopez-Viado said that there was consensus in the city that the county department had not provided “services of the caliber that everybody would like,” and that her goal was to ensure better healthcare for residents moving forward.
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