The Lancaster County Commissioners are looking to increase coronavirus testing in the county by expanding the scope of who is eligible to obtain a test.
In May, the county and Lancaster General Health reached a $24.7 million agreement, using federal coronavirus relief act funds, for Lancaster General Health to test up to 1,000 cases per day as well as perform contact tracing. But on average, the hospital has been performing about half that.
"We're running around 400-500 a day," Commissioner Josh Parsons said at Tuesday’s county work session meeting. “I would like to increase that as certainly one of our few tools in this battle is testing."
Parsons went on to raise the prospect that testing be opened up to asymptomatic individuals.
Dr. Michael Ripchinski, Chief Clinical Officer with Lancaster General Health, was not at the meeting Tuesday but is expected to attend today to discuss the program.
Chris Hausner, Lancaster County's solicitor, said the contract reached with Lancaster General Health in May allows for asymptomatic testing only in limited circumstances. A proposed amendment to the agreement, which the commissioners will vote on today, would allow additional asymptomatic testing.
Hausner explained that it would make tests available to individuals who are leaving Lancaster for a state where a negative test is required, or if someone is returning from a state where a test is recommended or mandated.
Commissioner Ray D'Agostino agreed with fellow Republican Parsons that testing was one of the most important tools available, and said this amendment would provide for more flexibility in testing.
Democratic Commissioner Craig Lehman was concerned about the county being able to set the requirements for asymptomatic testing under the agreement, because he did not want testing to be performed on a political basis rather than on the recommendation of medical experts.