On April 21, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo along with his colleagues in the House of Representatives passed legislation to require long-term care and housing facilities to report and track COVID-19 positive cases and mortalities to public health officials during the public health emergency.
“In an effort to protect those most in need, we seek accurate and daily data on COVID-19 cases and mortalities at our long-term care, assisted living, and senior housing facilities, which have been difficult to obtain since the outbreak began,” said Speaker DeLeo (D – Winthrop). “I am grateful to Chair Balser for her advocacy on behalf of the older adult community s work to act on this crucial legislation.”
The legislation includes the following provisions that apply to facilities including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences, elderly housing facilities, and specifically the Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke.
• These facilities shall report daily to local departments of health and to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) the number of known COVID-19 positive cases and mortalities among residents and staff at the facility.
• DPH shall make the data publicly available on its website and update it daily, including the name of the facility, the number of known COVID-19 positive cases and mortalities of both resident and staff cases and mortalities.
• Facilities shall report daily to residents’ families, guardians, and legally-authorized representatives the number of know COVID-19 positive cases and mortalities among facility staff and residents.
• DPH shall report weekly the number of COVID-19 positive cases and mortalities at these facilities – including demographic data including race, age and sex in aggregate form – to the House and Senate Committees on Ways & Means.
“Our long term care facilities, assisted living residences, and elder housing are the epicenter of this public health crisis,” said Representative Ruth Balser, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs (D-Newton). “Those with loved ones in these residences, and the larger community, are understandably alarmed. The legislation passed by the House today will ensure that facilities and public health officials inform family members and the public on a daily basis of the number of positive cases and the number of mortalities among the residents and the workforce. It is our hope that with transparent reporting, the necessary testing, personal protective equipment, and staff support will be made available to these facilities.”
The bill will now go to the Senate.