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Wolf administration presents COVID-19 testing prioritization plan


Amid all efforts aimed at keeping Pennsylvanians safe from COVID-19, Pennsylvania has developed an enhanced testing strategy that makes testing accessible, available, and adaptable as the state learns more about the virus.

Yesterday, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachael Levine, the commonwealth’s Contact Tracing and Testing Director Michael Huff, and Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman provided a comprehensive look at testing for COVID in the state with details about who should be tested and when, and how everyone should know about their insurance coverage.

“We appreciate the hard work done by health systems, pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), medical clinics and other entities that are providing testing for COVID-19 across Pennsylvania,” Levine said. “When we established our testing strategy, we wanted testing to be accessible, available and adaptable and we are working to meet that challenge. Anyone who believes they have symptoms of COVID-19 can get tested today in Pennsylvania.” 


Huff outlined details of how all Pennsylvanians who want or need a test will have access to one. Priority attention will be given to those who are the most vulnerable.

Individuals will be offered testing based on a prioritized tiered approach using the following test types:

PCR test, which is the Gold Standard, but supply and turnaround time could be a challenge.

Antigen test, which is much more widely available, and results can be within the same day; however, there can be challenges with accuracy.

This prioritization supports public health officials, health care providers, and laboratories in determining who should be tested given the current environment of the COVID-19 pandemic in Pennsylvania.

Testing is prioritized by four tiers:

Tier One priority is for hospitalized individuals with signs or symptoms of COVID-19; symptomatic individuals who are close contacts to a positive case of COVID-19; and asymptomatic individuals with certain underlying health conditions who are close contacts to a positive case of COVID-19.

Tier Two priority is for all other individuals with COVID-19 symptoms; close contacts of confirmed cases who are asymptomatic; individuals who are asymptomatic and who live in congregate care facilities; individuals who are asymptomatic and who work in health care, non-long-term congregate care facilities, home health care, emergency services, child and adult protective services, correctional facilities, and compassionate care and hospice services.

Tier Three priority is based on the COVID-19 prevalence in the community for asymptomatic individuals who work in areas that have frequent interactions with the public and may not have the ability to maintain at least six feet of space on a consistent basis. For example: retail and manufacturing and food services.

Tier Four priority for individuals who are asymptomatic and who do not fall into other categories.

Altman advised Pennsylvanians to know their coverage as it pertains to COVID-19 testing.

“No Pennsylvanian should forego testing for any reason, if deemed medically necessary, including fear of what it might cost,” Altman said. “The Insurance Department wants to assure Pennsylvanians that if they lose their employer-sponsored health care coverage because their employment was affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, there are options available for them to continue coverage. In Pennsylvania, individuals and families can secure coverage through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. In addition to the ACA, Medical Assistance, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and COBRA are also options.”

All of the information discussed yesterday is available in detail at