NYSACHO represents the collective voice of local health departments in New York State. We support, advocate for, and empower local health departments in their work to promote health and wellness to prevent disease, disability and injury throughout New York State.
NEW YORK STATE LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT PREPAREDNESS FOR AND RESPONSE TO COVID-19: AN IN-PROGRESS REVIEW
Since the first case of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified in New York on March 1st, 2020, New York’s local health departments (LHDs) have worked around the clock fighting the highly infectious and sometimes fatal disease on the front lines of public health in their communities. LHDs have extensive experience in investigating communicable disease outbreaks, planning and conducting exercises and drills for public health emergencies, and inspecting and monitoring restaurants, hotels, and other facilities which prepared them to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Notwithstanding their experience and preparedness, LHDs faced considerable challenges in their pandemic response, including crippling staff and funding deficits; limited supplies of PPE and testing kits; the absence of a statewide communicable disease data system robust enough to handle the unprecedented number of COVID-19 cases in the state; and communication obstacles with the New York State Department of Health and state leaders. Notable strengths included intra-governmental activities, meaning support from county leadership and coordination with other county agencies (such as social service departments); coordination with schools, hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities; contact tracing and case investigations; and the use of CommCare (the NYSDOH software program introduced in May 2020 to manage COVID-19 cases in a single, statewide system) as a case investigation and contract tracing data system.
From May to July 2020, NYSACHO and the Region 2 Public Health Training Center, a training and technical assistance resource for the public health workforce in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, led an In Progress Review of LHDs’ response efforts to COVID-19. The purpose of this exercise was to identify and describe lessons learned from LHD responses throughout the first months of COVID-19. These lessons learned then informed a series of recommended actions for LHDs, county governments, and the State.
is the blueprint for state and local action to improve the health and well-being of all New Yorkers and to promote health equity in all populations who experience disparities. New to this 2019-2024 cycle is the incorporation of a Health Across All Policies approach, initiated in 2017, which calls on all State agencies to identify and strengthen the ways that their policies and programs can have a positive impact on health. It embraces Healthy Aging to support New York's commitment as the first age-friendly state.