Published October 28. 2021 01:07PM
There are two candidates for the office of Lehigh County executive: Democrat Phillips M. Armstrong and Republican Glenn Eckhart. Voters will choose one in the Nov. 2 election.
The candidates were asked to respond to the following question in 100 words or less: Should Lehigh County have a health bureau to handle the next pandemic?
Democrat Phillips M. Armstrong Public health and safety are critical concerns for me. I have worked with the county's Emergency Management Agency to perform services between the commonwealth and local citizens. Although the pandemic has roared through our county, efforts have been consistent with Pennsylvania Department of Health best practices. For the future, I am working with county commissioners to evaluate a long-term strategy for a county public health bureau. We have a cross-functional team dedicated to review needs, expenses and benefits of a local health bureau. Results of our study will be available later this year. Public safety and security remain my largest foundational concerns going forward.
Republican Glenn Eckhart If the hospitals in Lehigh County are willing to pay for it and run it, the answer is yes. Hospitals are nonprofits, not paying property taxes and range profits between $40,000,000 and $100,000,000. They are in the business of saving lives; it's their job. If county taxpayers are going to pay for it, the answer is no. Lehigh County does not have the experience nor the millions of dollars to finance it. Cedarbrook nursing homes had the second highest death toll of COVID-19 patients in Pennsylvania. This is not a good record to start with and in believing we could run a health bureau.