Frankel to introduce systemic testing, tracing bill for Pennsylvania

Legislation will urge reinvestment in health care capabilities to address COVID-19 threat

PITTSBURGH, APRIL 22 – As Pennsylvania’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus begin to show dividends, state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, is proposing legislation to reinvest in the state’s health care capabilities, specifically to allow for widespread coronavirus testing and case investigations similar to efforts in other states and nations.

“In order to relax our social distancing measures, we must efficiently and effectively isolate and treat people with the virus,” Frankel said. “This requires a robust system of testing, case investigation and contact tracing. We cannot let our defenses down and negate our hard work and sacrifice for the last month. We must protect ourselves from a second wave of infection.

“Other states and nations are moving rapidly to enhance their capabilities in these areas. Massachusetts, for example, recently hired 1,000 contact tracers to help contain the virus. In recent years, Pennsylvania has unfortunately taken the opposite tack, by cutting funding for public health programs. Pennsylvanians want to leave their homes and rebuild their vibrant communities, but we cannot do that if it’s still unsafe to go to work, or into businesses. It’s time to invest now, so that we can ensure a strong foundation to rebuilding.”

Frankel added that it is hard to estimate how many contact-tracers would be needed, as it depends on the population, the number of infected individuals, and the characteristics of the population. His bill would provide the state Department of Health with the flexibility it needs to hire tracers and ramp up efforts to protect communities across the state.