New law requires more COVID-19 data-gathering

Commonwealth Magazine: More information sought on race, individual nursing homes


THE MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH will need to publish more transparent data about the number of COVID-19 cases in individual long-term care facilities, and will also need to publish new racial and occupational data about coronavirus cases, under a bill Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law Sunday.

“For a month and a half now we’ve been asking for this information…in order to better prepare for how we’re going to address the most affected communities,” said Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, a Springfield Democrat who chairs the Black and Latino legislative caucus.

As the coronavirus pandemic has swept the state, the Department of Public Health has been regularly changing the way it reports COVID-19 data, with daily and weekly updates. But advocates for racial minorities and those focusing on nursing home outbreaks have been pushing for more specific data.

Rep. Ruth Balser, a Newton Democrat who chairs the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs and sponsored an early version of the bill, said since seniors in group living facilities are the most vulnerable population to the virus, the public and policymakers need accurate, preciseand comprehensive information by facility.

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