What is the oldest health department in the United States? Answer: Louisiana (1855, yellow fever, New Orleans).

If you're not a nurse, doctor or other health care professional, you don't have a clue as to why health departments exist. Google Typhoid Mary, "The Jungle," the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, Harvey Wiley, food poisoning, or polio.

Employees work every day inspecting and advising restaurants, hospitals, grocery stores, nursing homes, fast food establishments, etc. in the proper rules and regulations for the safe handling of our food, to prevent large-scale food outbreaks. All places serving food to the public must have their permits displayed.

Be glad for programs like newborn screening, safe drinking water, safe milk and dairy products, infectious disease prevention, low or no more tuberculosis and quality seafood. The next time you criticize the current COVID-19 situation, please remember your Louisiana state Department of Health is working daily to ensure that you can visit your favorite restaurant with the worry your food is not safe for consumption. They have been in business since before the Civil War.

SHIRLEY TYREE

retired, Office of Public Health

Metairie