House Passes Legislation to Track COVID-19 Data at Long-Term Care & Elder Housing Facilities

FRAMINGHAM – Members of the House of Representatives yesterday, April 21, passed legislation that would require long-term care facilities and elder care housing to track and report COVID-19 positive cases.

The bill will now go to the Senate.

This bill, supported by Representatives Carmine Gentile, Maria Robinson, and Jack Patrick Lewis, requires that facilities send data on COVID-19 positive cases and on mortalities to public health officials during this public health emergency.

“With nursing homes and senior congregate housing accounting for half of COVID-19 deaths of our friends and family in the Commonwealth, we need to focus more resources there. Data tracking is an essential tool,” said Rep Gentile (D-Sudbury).

The legislation includes reporting requirements for long-term care facilities of known COVID-19 positive cases and mortalities among residents and staff to local health departments, the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the families, guardians, and legal representatives of their residents.

It includes an additional requirement that the DPH make this data publicly available and updated daily, including aggregated demographic data based on race, age, and sex.

“With five skilled nursing facilities and several elder housing facilities in Framingham, it’s important for our city residents, families with elders at these facilities, and the staff to have access to more information about the spread of COVID-19 among these high risk populations,” said Rep. Robinson (D-Framingham).

The changes apply to long-term care facilities, assisted living residences, elderly housing facilities, and include specific provisions for the Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke.

“Many of us have entrusted family members and friends into the care of others firmly believing that policies and procedures, along with oversight from the Commonwealth, will keep them well. While data alone won’t save us, this legislation will provide daily updates along with demographic information of what is happening in long-term care facilities,” said Rep Lewis (D-Framingham). “Family members deserve to be informed, and the lack of regular and clear updates is making a deadly situation worse.”

“Our long-term care facilities, assisted living residences, and elder housing are the epicenter of this public health crisis,” said Rep Ruth Balser (D-Newton), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. “It is our hope that with transparent reporting, the necessary testing, personal protective equipment, and staff support will be made available to these facilities.”

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