Georgia Could Strip Public Health Powers from Local Boards

Feb 26, 2021

Georgia lawmakers are considering a reorganization of the public health system that would strip power from county boards of health and give it to the state public health commissioner. Proponents say the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need for a more centralized structure. 

Dr. Kathleen Toomey receives her COVID-19 vaccination at Grady Hospital Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Atlanta.
Credit Steve Schaefer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

Now, each county board must approve its local health director, even when multiple counties share a district director. Senate Bill 256 would give Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey the power to choose directors without having to get county board approvals. The measure also strips local boards of the ability to make rules and lets Toomey redraw public health districts without local consent. County health department employees would become state employees.