Gov. Ralph Northam is backing a push by Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park to locally administer health services.
Northam submitted an amendment to Senate Bill 1221 to the General Assembly on Wednesday that would grant the localities authority to run health services locally rather than rely on the state.
The original legislation, which unanimously passed both houses of the General Assembly this year, allows Loudoun County to enter into a contract with the Virginia Department of Health to locally provide public health services.
The legislature will consider his amendment to the bill during its reconvened session April 7.
Across most of Virginia, health services are the job of state-run health districts. The Prince William Health District includes the county and both cities. Arlington and Fairfax counties are the only localities in the state with locally-run health departments.
Local officials have made the push amid the coronavirus pandemic as they have grown increasingly frustrated with the health district. They’ve said a local health department would have been able to more quickly address equity concerns with the response to the pandemic.
The health district has partnered with local organizations to run vaccine clinics targeting underserved communities.
Northam visited Prince William County Thursday to tour two such clinics – one at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Dumfries and another at Todos Supermarket in Woodbridge.
Nolan Stout covers Prince William County. Reach him at email@example.com or @TheNolanStout on Facebook and Twitter.