On Sunday, in an important step forward, Governor Baker signed An Act Addressing COVID-19 Data Collection and Disparities in Treatment .
This is good news for everyone in Massachusetts who cares about public health. If implemented properly, it will allow state officials to understand how the coronavirus is spreading through specific communities, populations and occupations. More than a third of the data on new infections released by the state still lacks information on race and ethnicity. And the state is not currently collecting data on occupation, language and disability status.
This new law has been a high priority for MPHA and the Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity, and we worked closely with our allies in the Legislature over many weeks to advance the strongest possible version of the bill.
We thank Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senators Jo Comerford and Sonia Chang-Díaz, and the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, especially caucus chair Rep. Carlos Gonzalez and member Rep. Jon Santiago, for their hard work and dedication to getting this bill done.
We hope that the administration will now implement this law effectively, thus dramatically improving our understanding of how the pandemic is impacting marginalized communities in Massachusetts -- including Black and Latinx residents, low-wage workers, people who don't speak English, and people with disabilities.
This, in turn, will allow state officials to see patterns early in future outbreaks, and thus mount a more effective response.
The bill will also improve transparency by requiring regular reporting from the Baker Administration on actions being taken to address inequities that the data reveals.
This level of data collection should have started months ago, but later is better than never. In the coming weeks, MPHA will be closely monitoring the Administration's approach to accomplishing the goals laid out in the bill, and we will provide you with periodic progress reports and requests to take action, when necessary.
In a promising sign, the Governor filed another bill today that will strengthen the Department of Public Health's ability to enforce compliance with data reporting, provide for needed changes in reporting from senior housing facilities, and ensure individual privacy when data is aggregated and reported.
Thank you for your partnership in supporting the collection of complete data and for continuing to insist that our state's response to this crisis embeds equity and justice.