By: Don Shaw email: don.shaw@pennsylvaniachronicle.com (570) 543-2961

PA Department of Health blocks county from screening first responders and medical professionals; PA House passes fix 201-1

PA Department of Health blocks county from screening first responders and medical professionals; PA House passes fix 201-1

Harrisburg, PA

Legislation prioritizing COVID-19 testing for first responders, medical professionals and vulnerable populations passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives earlier today by a vote of 201-1, said House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster).

House Bill 2455 establishes a comprehensive framework for statewide COVID-19 testing and gives local health departments greater authority to implement coronavirus testing.

“Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and Gov. Tom Wolf have been very clear that expanded testing is the key to returning to work, schools and places of worship,” said Cutler.  “We should empower health departments in all corners of the state to do what’s necessary to protect their communities, and this bill does just that.”

House Bill 2455 was also amended to require the governor to review statewide COVID-19 testing capacity, and issue a plan to test Pennsylvania’s first responders, health care workers and other vulnerable populations as well as to use tests to ease current mitigation requirements that have been imposed by the government. Additionally, if passed and signed into law the governor must provide regular reports on testing efforts including the number of tests needed, costs associated and exactly what testing resources are available.

“I drafted House Bill 2455 after learning Chester County purchased thousands of COVID-19 test kits, but red tape at the state Department of Health blocked our county from using the tests to screen first responders and medical professionals for the coronavirus,” said Lawrence.  “This legislation authorizes any local health department, including those in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, to proceed with testing that meets appropriate FDA guidelines.”    

House Bill 2455 advances to the Senate for further consideration.