HARRISBURG, PA — Legislation authored by Rep. John Lawrence (R-West Grove) to ensure transparency and accountability with the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response on broad based coronavirus testing was signed into law earlier this week by Gov. Tom Wolf.
“Robust COVID-19 testing is critical to moving Pennsylvania forward in the coming days,” said Lawrence. “Our ability to get back to work, back to school and back to normal hinges on vigorous testing capability and hopefully an effective vaccine in the near future.”
House Bill 2455 requires the governor to submit comprehensive, federally required state-level COVID-19 testing plans to the General Assembly for review.
In addition, the Pennsylvania Department of Health must provide biweekly reporting on technology and testing supplies procured by the state, the number of positive and negative tests processed by the state laboratory in Exton, demographic data on test results, and limitations experienced by the state lab, including lack of chemical reagents or other testing components.
Lawrence originally introduced House Bill 2455 after learning the state Department of Health blocked the Chester County Health Department from using thousands of COVID-19 test kits procured to test first responders and medical professionals.
Chester County eventually secured authorization to utilize the kits and continues to provide COVID-19 testing at sites across the county.
A second COVID-19 related bill authored by Lawrence, House Bill 2540, passed the House last week with broad bipartisan support.
The bill establishes the State Epidemiology Advisory Council, to bring together the top infectious disease doctors in the Commonwealth, and would be responsible for providing the General Assembly and the governor with fact-based, scientifically accurate policy recommendations in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
House Bill 2540 has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for further review.
House Bill 2455, now Act 70 of 2020, passed the House and the Senate with near-unanimous bipartisan support. The new law is effective immediately.
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