By: Don Shaw email: don.shaw@pennsylvaniachronicle.com (570) 543-2961

Wolf Administration to include gender identity, sexual orientation or expression in COVID-19 data collection

Wolf Administration to include gender identity, sexual orientation or expression in COVID-19 data collection

Harrisburg, PA

Governor Tom Wolf today took announced the inclusion of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians by announcing ways the community will be counted in COVID-19 data.

As counties in the commonwealth move from the red stay-at-home order to the aggressive mitigation efforts of the yellow phase, the Department of Health will be conducting extensive case histories investigations as part of contact tracing on those who test positive for the virus.

The department has chosen to work with Sara Alert, a new data collection platform and has requested a system modification to the platform to collect sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data. The department is an early adopter of the technology and this system modification will provide for the platform to collect this data in all states and entities that use it moving forward.

The department has also requested from the eHealth Authority Board that the state’s six health information organizations work to capture sexual orientation and gender identity or expression data from electronic health records that can then be used by health care providers to report their COVID-19 data to the department.

The Administration says it is a top priority to ensure that all people in Pennsylvania who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 have access to diagnostic testing and will only partner with organizations and entities throughout the response to COVID-19 that have an established commitment to non-discriminatory practices. The Administration did not address concerns this policy may leave out faith organizations looking to help in this area who do not share the Administrations’s views.

“Pennsylvania’s standards of care – in times of crisis and not – are based on an ethical allocation framework, meaning care is provided equitably across all populations without regard to patient age, race, gender, creed, color, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic status.”