Representatives in the Pennsylvania state House voted Monday to pass a bill to expand testing capacity in the commonwealth. House Bill 2455 passed 201-1.
State Rep. John Lawrence (R-Chester) introduced the bill after Chester County had purchased “thousands” of test kits for coronavirus for first responders and medical professionals. But Lawrence says “red tape” at the state Department of Health blocked Chester from using them.
The aim of H.B. 2455 is to give local government greater flexibility to test for coronavirus, while also creating statewide guidelines for them to follow.
“This legislation authorizes any local health department, including those in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, to proceed with testing that meets appropriate U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines,” said Lawrence.
An amendment to H.B. 2455 would require Governor Tom Wolf to create a plan for testing first responders, health care workers, and others on the frontlines of the pandemic. Additionally, the governor would need to review the commonwealth’s testing capacity and provide a report. It would include the number of tests needed, related costs, and any available testing resources.
House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) announced the bill’s passing Monday.
“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.”
Only state Rep. Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery) voted down H.B. 2455. It now goes to the state Senate.