READING, Pa. – During the Berks County Commissioners’ weekly update Wednesday, officials took time to reflect on where things stand with their COVID-19 response.
Municipalities, fire and police, schools and medical centers all took part in a survey about the county’s response to the pandemic, with good and bad reviews being shared.
Survey responses are being reviewed by the commissioners and emergency management as the county is in the midst of a rise in COVID-19 cases.
“An uptick not so much in cases right now but rather hospitalizations, people on ventilators, deaths unfortunately,” said Commissioner Chair Christian Leinbach.
The Reading Police Department said they were not pleased with the county response to the pandemic. Emergency management leaders said getting necessary pandemic materials out proved difficult.
“We were unable to meet those needs at the local level because vendors we were going to buy those things said all of their stock was reserved for fed or state contracts,” said Brian Gottschall, director of emergency management.
Two school districts said they had challenges getting schools up and running in the fall due to a lack of safety equipment.
Such responses are bringing up looming questions internally about this public health crisis.
“We need to seriously ask the question as to whether a county health department would have helped to make this situation better,” said Gottschall.
As county leaders consider the pros and cons of the answer to that question and await state guidance on how to most effectively vaccinate the rest of the people in the county, they’re asking everyone to continue to follow the guidelines.
“(Department of Emergency Services) or even the County of Berks is not the solution to the COVID-19 problem,” Gottschall said. “This is more so than anything we’ve ever dealt with a community as a whole response.”
County commissioners also agreed that there should be an “after action review” as well, with an end to this pandemic still not in clear sight.
“Hopefully the mid-action review really was the middle but we don’t know that at this point in time,” said Leinbach.