READING, PA (March 15, 2021) – The Berks County COVID-19 Response Task Force has issued its report on the county’s response to the pandemic. The report includes recommendations that address Berks County’s immediate and long-term public health needs.
Berks County Community Foundation, the United Way of Berks County, and the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance created the task force in August 2020. Task force members represented the public and private sectors. As part of the effort, Holleran Consulting, LLC, a research firm, was contracted to conduct an independent community survey.
The task force was co-chaired by Jim Gerlach, President and CEO, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance; Kevin Murphy, President, Berks County Community Foundation; and Tammy White, President, United Way of Berks County.
A summary of the task force’s recommendations:
- Berks County Community Foundation should ensure that an independent in-depth analysis is completed that includes the cost and resources needed to create a local health department. The study will include an analysis of a range of options including, but not limited to:
- Creating a Berks County Department of Health
- Hiring staff at the county level
- Contracting with a nonprofit agency to serve as a local Department of Health
- Partnering with another county to serve as the Department of Health
- Forming a multi-county regional Department of Health
- Berks County and the City of Reading should include a review of technology infrastructure in their 2030 strategic planning process and in the county’s economic development action plan.
- Berks County Community Foundation should explore federal and statewide advocacy efforts and join a coalition that is advocating for an increase in funding and resources for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
- The Berks County COVID-19 Advisory Panel or a community advisory panel should ensure that the majority of the public feels comfortable with the COVID-19 vaccine.
- The County of Berks should continue to update the “Stop the Spread” website and use that as the main source of COVID-19 information.
- The United Way of Berks County and 211 should coordinate to provide up-to-date information on volunteer opportunities for businesses and individuals.
- The United Way of Berks County should provide assistance and review the county’s charity food eco-system in an effort to assist Helping Harvest.
- The Berks County COVID-19 Advisory Panel or a community advisory panel should provide guidelines and recommendations regarding anticipated healthcare concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Berks County Community Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that serves as a civic leader for our region by developing, managing and distributing charitable funds aimed at improving the quality of life in Berks County. More information is available at www.bccf.org.