COVID-19 Data Collection and Disparities in Treatment

Yesterday, the House and the Senate enacted An Act addressing COVID-19 data collection and disparities in treatment. This bill would:

 Define “elder care facility” to include: 

  • The Holyoke and Chelsea Soldiers’ Homes;  
  • a convalescent home, nursing home, intermediate care facility for persons with an intellectual disability, rest home or charitable home for the aged, a skilled nursing facility, assisted living residences licensed by the executive office of elder affairs;  
  • elderly housing facilities;  
  • any residential premises available for lease by elderly or disabled individuals that is financed or subsidized in whole or in part by state or federal housing programs established primarily to furnish housing rather than housing and personal services; or 
  • any other facility licensed as a long-term care facility by the department of public health. 

Require a daily report from elder care facilities to the local department of health and the state department of public health (DPH) to include: the number of known of COVID-19 positive cases among residents; the number of known mortalities among the residents; the number of known positive cases among the staff; and the number of known mortalities among the staff.   

Require the DPH to collect and compile data from all local boards of health, and from any entity over which the department has regulatory authority, to include:  

  • the total number of people tested for COVID-19, tested positive for COVID-19, and who have died due to a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19  within the previous 24 hours; 
  • the aggregate number of people tested for COVID-19, and tested positive for COVID-19, since the declaration of a state of emergency;  
  • the total number of people hospitalized due to a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 or from complications related to COVID-19 within the previous 7 days, and since the declaration of a state of emergency; 
  •  the aggregate number of people who have died due to a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 or from complications related to COVID-19 since the declaration of a state of emergency;  
  • the number of known COVID-19 positive cases among elder care facility residents, the number of known mortalities among the residents, the number of known positive cases among elder care facility staff, and the number of known mortalities among the staff; and  
  • demographic information for all individuals tested for, found positive for, hospitalized due to a probable or confirmed case of or who died from a confirmed case of COVID-19, including, but not limited to: (i) gender; (ii) race; (iii) ethnicity; (iv) primary city or town of residence; (v) age; (vi) disability; (vii) primary language; (viii) occupation; and (ix) any other demographic information that the department deems important to understand the disparate impact of COVID-19 on certain populations.

Demographic information for individuals tested for COVID-19 and individuals hospitalized due to a confirmed case of COVID-19 shall be compiled and reported not less than every 3 days. 

DPH shall compile and report daily the data from all boards of health and elder care facilities defined above.  The report shall include:  

  • any municipality or county with 25 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19;  
  • the number of COVID-19 positive cases and mortalities among residents and staff in all DPH-licensed long term care facilities and EOEA-licensed assisted living facilities; and 
  • the number of COVID-19 positive cases and mortalities among incarcerated individuals and staff in all state and county correctional facilities. 

The DPH shall also report on its website, for each state and county correctional facility: 

  • the total number of residents per correctional facility;  
  • the number of residents within each facility who are housed in a cell;  
  • alone;  
  • with 1 other person; or  
  • with 2 or more other people. 

The department of correction and each sheriff shall provide this residential housing count information not less than weekly to the DPH. 

The DPH daily report shall be structured in a manner that permits the comparison and stratification of data and the identification of trends.  The data shall be downloadable and machine readable.   

An elder care facility shall notify residents and each resident’s health care proxy, emergency contact, legal guardian or other legally authorized representative by 5:00 P.M. the next calendar day if: (1) there is a new confirmed case of or mortality due to COVID-19 among residents or staff; or (2) 3 or more residents or staff at the residence or facility present with new onset of respiratory symptoms within the previous 72 hours. 

A task force is established to study and make recommendations that address health disparities for under-served or underrepresented populations based on culture, race, ethnicity, language, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, geographic location. 

Recommendations shall include but not be limited to:  

  • improve safety for populations at increased risk for COVID, including: essential employees; individuals residing in congregate housing and group home facilities; inmates; individuals with underlying medical conditions; and, individuals residing in municipalities or neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by COVID;  
  • remove barriers to healthcare and treatment; 
  • remove barriers to access to medial supplies; 
  • increase access to testing; 
  • informational materials in multiple languages for underserved populations regarding healthcare access, testing,and treatment; and  
  • other ways to address disparities.   

These requirements set forth in this bill shall remain in effect until the DPH has received zero reports of new cases for 30 consecutive days.