HARRISBURG – Legislation aiming to modernize the Pennsylvania Disease Prevention and Control Law was officially introduced today by State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33).
The existing law dates back to 1955, and revisions are necessary because the code lacks transparency, and does not reflect current health practices.
Senate Bill 1124 was assigned to the Senate Health & Human Services Committee on Monday. The proposal eases the restrictions that are preventing the state’s Department of Health from publicizing data and details concerning the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unfortunately, the Health Department has been using this outdated law to withhold life-saving information,” said Mastriano. “Currently, the law allows public health officials to keep records and reports of contagious diseases strictly confidential. It is disheartening that neighboring states have been more transparent about potential cases.”
If enacted into law, Mastriano’s measure would lift disclosure restrictions only during an emergency declaration.
During the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, state health officials were not providing the public with the total number of samples tested or the number of people quarantined after possible exposure. The lack of information-sharing potentially exacerbated the crisis, according to Mastriano.
The state Senate commissioned a report on the Disease Prevention and Control Law in 2013, and several recommendations were suggested to lawmakers. Mastriano’s measure seeks action on those recommendations.
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