Two bills that would improve reporting of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Pennsylvania are on their way to the Governor to be signed into law, according to Senator Dan Laughlin, who supported the bills.
Senate Bill 1110 requires the Pennsylvania Department of Health and local health agencies to notify 911 centers of the address of any known positive case of a communicable, aerosolized and transmissible disease. The requirement would only apply to diseases that are the subject of an emergency disaster proclamation by the Governor.
The legislation would ensure the information is provided to law enforcement officers, fire department personnel, emergency medical services personnel, medical examiners and coroners when they are called to carry out an essential job function at the address. The information may only be used by those specifically authorized to access it and can only be shared up to 60 days after the expiration or termination of the disaster emergency.
Senate Bill 1164 would ensure county coroners are notified of all suspected deaths in their jurisdiction caused by this virus and other contagious diseases that constitute a health emergency.
State law requires county coroners to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding any death – including those due to contagious disease – except in cases of death by natural causes. However, many coroners are not being notified of suspected COVID-19 deaths in hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities because the Department of Health is interpreting the law differently.
This leads to discrepancies between the number of COVID-19 deaths reported by the Department of Health and the number reported by county coroners, creating confusion among the general public. The bill would improve transparency and eliminate inconsistencies in how COVID-19 deaths are being reported.
Contact: Matt Azeles email@example.com