West Covina Votes to Form Its Own Health Department

In an unprecedented move, the West Covina City Council has voted to part ways with the LA County Department of Public Health and form its own local health agency. The 4-1 vote underscores cities’ ongoing frustration with LADPH and its performance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From a city manager’s perspective, from a municipal perspective, I think the county and the state government have failed to implement policies to effectively respond. It just hasn’t been sufficient,” said City Manager David Carmany, who supports the move. However, when pressed, he admitted his office had not done a thorough analysis of cost. Councilman Brian Tabatabai, the lone dissenter, called that wildly irresponsible.

As County News has reported, a number of cities have considered forming their own health departments in recent months. But the costs and logistics can prove prohibitive.

LADPH said it will work with the city to transfer services as seamlessly as possible once the city gets approval from the state. But it noted West Covina will need to meet a lengthy list of responsibilities that require money.

West Covina is willing to take it slow.

“Establishing a city health department will take time, planning and coordination through a process that has not been accomplished in decades,” a city statement said. “The city does not anticipate having a health department at the level of Pasadena or Long Beach by the 1st of July, but intends to provide services that are responsive to the community’s needs.”