Highlights From Allegheny County's Board Of Health Meeting

May 13, 2020

The Allegheny County Board of Health on Wednesday held its first meeting since the stay-at-home order was put in place by Gov. Tom Wolf due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

Here are some highlights:

  • Sara Alerts is slated to be implemented by the end of the month. The Pennsylvania Department of Health describes this web-based monitoring tool that "contract tracers will use to send daily emails, texts and/or phone calls to cases and identified close contracts throughout their isolation/quarantine monitoring period.” 
  • County data show that pollutants related to transportation have dropped by 40 to 50 percent. This is likely due, in part, to the stay-at-home order.
  • The head of Prevention Point Pittsburgh, a nonprofit specializing in drug-user health, said people may be more reticent to seek medical care due to the coronavirus. Injection drug use has a high risk of infection. Delays in treatment can result in life-threatening medical issues, including brain abscesses and blood infections.
  • More than 700 people have volunteered for the county’s medical reserve corps. County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen said many of these volunteers signed up in the last few months. At least 50 corps members will be trained to help with contact tracing.
  • Some health department staff who were reassigned to do contact tracing in March have returned to their regular jobs. That move is due to a decline in new infections of the coronavirus. 
  • There has been an increase in open burning complaints, which may be related to the stay-at-home order. “We are home a lot more…people are burning their trash, people are burning all day long, and it’s causing some health issues,” said Jim Kelly, the Health Department’s deputy director of environmental health.