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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: August 24, 2020 10:34 AM
From: Representative Robert F. Matzie
To: All House members
Subject: Targeted Detection of Covid-19
We are all looking for ways to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.  While temperature checks and limiting crowds in stores and restaurants is an important part of slowing the spread, these responses are not tenable in the long term.  Knowing that the virus is present before people feel ill and inadvertently spread it is critical in containing clusters before major outbreaks can occur.  Testing for the virus in wastewater samples may be the answer. 
It is with this in mind, that I am introducing legislation to facilitate the detection of Covid-19 before it becomes community spread.  The Targeted Outbreak Detection Act (TOD) will create a tracking network through testing wastewater samples.  Most wastewater treatment systems already have regulatory requirements to perform this type of routine sampling. Sending a portion of these samples, upon request, to a designated laboratory for testing of the presence of Covid is an easy and cost-efficient means of monitoring the virus’s prevalence within our communities.
The CDC is in the early stages of building a National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) with the goal over time of collecting data within CDC from local wastewater utilities.  However, the CDC does not have the authority to mandate participation from local utilities.  This testing is already being conducted voluntarily by some forward-thinking facilities in Pennsylvania.  Testing wastewater for opioids has been a tool utilized by public health agencies in recent years. 
The data collected from wastewater samples in the Commonwealth will inform public health decisions by state and local health departments related to Covid-19 and other designated public health emergencies in the future.  Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation. 

Introduced as HB2883