138 Local Public Health Officials & Municipal Leaders Call for Emergency Funding for Local Health Departments
Over 100 public health officials and municipal leaders from throughout Massachusetts are calling for a second $15 million package of emergency funding for local health departments before the end of 2020.
On November 23, 138 officials from 87 communities signed a letter calling for the extra funding, addressed to:
- Governor Charlie Baker, Speaker Robert DeLeo
- Senate President Karen Spilka
- Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders
- Secretary of the Executive Office for Administration Finance Michael J. Heffernan
- Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Monica Bharel
"Local health departments (LHDs) are on the front lines in fighting to contain the disease," the letter says. "Ensuring they have the funds needed to maintain their capacity until the pandemic is under control is vital for our health and prosperity."
Since March, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council has been providing resources and facilitating conversations among municipal leaders. MAPC worked with the leaders who signed onto the letter to coordinate a joint message to state leadership.
Both the state’s previous emergency funding provided to local health departments and federal CARES Act dollars must be spent by the end of 2020. The emergency state funding in particular has proven critical in enabling health departments to pay for additional nursing and inspectional staff hours.
Local health agents, nurses and inspectors have conducted contract tracing, case investigation, enforcement, outreach, education, and flu prevention activities with these funds. The need for these critical services will not end with the expiration of current funding streams, and that need is only likely to increase given the current rise in COVID infections and the onset of flu season.
The emergency state funding would help local health departments bring in more personnel to support overworked current staff, who are facing significant burnout: many have worked without a break, nights and weekends included, since the outset of the crisis.