This week, West Covina City Council voted to leave the L.A. County health department.
A 4-1 majority of local representatives supported the end of the city’s dependence on the department they view as responsible for the harm West Covina citizens had to experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though the decision would make it possible to revoke some measures introduced by the counties (such as closures of bars and restaurants), it would not free the city from the rules brought by state and federal institutions.
Many commentators estimate that the move from West Covina would stimulate other localities who expressed their dissatisfaction with the L.A. County health department to follow suit.
Lack of support
Both West Covina Mayor Letty Lopez-Vialdo and City Manager David Carmany endorsed the city council’s decision.
They accused the county health department of not being sufficiently helpful to the residents and businesses in the time of crisis and expressed their conviction that the separation of the health department is a move that would adequately respond to the task.
On the other hand, councilman Brian Tabatabai criticized the council’s decision because no logistical and financial analysis has been provided about possible consequences of the separation.
Tabatabai, the only councilman who voted against the move, described the vote as irresponsible, at the same time showing how similar decisions from other places ended up soaking tens of millions of dollars from local budgets.
The disagreeing councilman characterized the decision as political rather than oriented toward the benefit of West Covina.
Nothing huge will happen before summer
Finally, he accused his colleagues of erroneously blaming the public health department for the damage only the COVID-19 disease itself can be responsible for.
In response to the move, the L.A. County Department of Health said that, before leaving, West Covina has to show the capacity of successfully providing a whole host of services to its residents, ranging from the issuing of birth certificates to the controlling of environmental health and chronic disease.
The county health department offered its assistance in a transition that would likely take more time than anticipated.
Both the West Covina Mayor and the council members who voted in favor of the split agreed that their decision would probably not come into effect before summer.