Republican lawmaker says Pennsylvania health officials withholding COVID-19 data


A York County Republican lawmaker is saying that his request for the COVID-19 data that shaped the state’s lockdown strategy remains unfulfilled as he appeals to the Office of Open Records for help.

“This is in direct violation of Act 77 of 2020, which clearly states the Department of Health is to provide the exact data and models used to make decisions under emergency declarations,” state Rep. Seth Grove said Friday. “Pennsylvanians have a right to understand why, under unilateral executive authority, the executive branch is making the decisions and why they have made decisions.”

Grove requested the data from the Department of Health earlier this year as he and other lawmakers questioned how the administration determined that bars and restaurants spread the virus faster than other businesses, thus requiring statewide capacity limits and shutdowns that crippled the hard-hit industry.

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine has said the administration monitors changing statistics and uses contact tracing to determine the sources of outbreaks. Grove said when he requested the specific information used to implement the policy and to enact the economic and social lockdowns used last spring, he was directed to the state’s COVID-19 online dashboard. The data provided there did not “by any means” answer any of his questions, he said.

The Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment from The Center Square on Wednesday. Grove said he filed his appeal with the OOR on Nov. 20 and expects a response within the coming weeks.

“It is imperative we have a full accounting of executive actions to review how and why decisions were made in order to learn and adopt policies around health-related emergencies,” he said.

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