West Covina city officials have been critical of the Covid restrictions Los Angeles County has imposed on retailers like restaurants and bars, as well as on residents.
Now, it is breaking away.
The West Covina City Council voted 4-1 at a contentious meeting Tuesday to start the process of forming its own health department separate from the county, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Doing so means city officials would decide restrictions on business and public activity amid a public health crisis like coronavirus. But it also means the city must itself provide and pay for basic health services and a slew of other functions currently covered by the county.
West Covina’s decision came a day before California reached a grim milestone on Wednesday: 50,000 coronavirus-related deaths. The most populous state in the nation also has the highest Covid death count. Meanwhile, the state has also begun loosening some restrictions as Covid cases continue to fall.
Proponents of West Covina’s move blasted the county’s response to the pandemic.
“From a city manager’s perspective, from a municipal perspective, I think the county and the state government have failed to implement policies to effectively respond,” West Covina city manager David Carmany said, according to the report.
The lone dissenter on the Council, Brian Tabatabai, criticized the decision, saying the city hadn’t yet analyzed the costs of creating and maintaining its own health department.
Other cities have butted heads with L.A. County over its Covid response. Pasadena has its own health department and in late November chose to ignore the county’s three-week ban on outdoor dining. The decision may have inspired other cities to explore similar options.
[LAT] — Dennis Lynch