Monongalia County Health Department underfunded during pandemic

The health department tested 1,000 residents on March 22-23.
The health department tested 1,000 residents on March 22-23.(WDTV)
Published: May. 29, 2020 at 5:42 PM EDT
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In the fight against coronavirus, health care workers are on the front line, but are in need of support.

"Public health is traditionally underfunded," said Dr. Lee Smith, Executive Director of the Monongalia County Health Department.

Dr. Smith says there has been a lack of funding coming into the health department.

"The federally qualified healthcare systems have been given millions of dollars since March. Local health has been promised funding from the CDC (...) It does not make up all of our deficit," said Dr. Smith.

Services like restaurant health inspections have been halted during the pandemic. Department staff, instead, focusing attention on the fight against coronavirus. But as reopening begins, the funding expenses will rise.

Dr. Smith says they have partnered with support agencies like the West Virginia National Guard to serve the public. Most recently they offered 1,000 coronavirus tests for free to the community.

These tests were contracted and funded by the state, offering tests to asymptomatic people. Staff announced Friday all 1,000 returned negative.

"998 showed up completely asymptomatic and two people showed up symptomatic. But again, their results were negative for COVID virus," said Dr. Smith.

He says staff are still analyzing the data they received from testing to understand trends in the community.