Shift to local Prince William health department to begin in July

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Prince William County plans to make a soft transition to a locally-run health department before fully absorbing the health district next year.

During a budget work session Tuesday, the Board of County Supervisors discussed the transition to locally administered health services. Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation allowing Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park to enter into a contract with the Virginia Department of Health to locally provide public health services.

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, although last year’s legislation will also allow Loudoun County to transition.

Officials made the push to transition amid the coronavirus pandemic as they grew increasingly frustrated with the state-led 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.

Health district officials have said the agency has been hampered due to underfunding and short-staffing since the 2007-08 recession.

Interim County Executive Elijah Johnson said the department has 96 positions and 124 contractors. As part of the transition, the county will advertise for the vacant positions, and employees will switch from working for the state to the county.

The county will also replace some of the technology used by the health district to align with county software.

The county would begin a soft transition on July 1, with the health district fully absorbed by July 1, 2023.

The transition is expected to cost about $1.7 million, bringing the department’s budget to $12.3 million for the upcoming fiscal year. Of that, about $6 million will come from the state. The county will pay about $5.5 million, Manassas will contribute $491,656 and Manassas Park will provide $197,929.

About $534,000 of federal relief funding could be used for transition purposes.

The county will maintain the services currently provided by the health district but could potentially expand services as the transition progresses.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner and republished with permission. Sign up for’s free email subscription today.


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