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House passes bill to require daily coronavirus reports from Massachusetts nursing homes

HOLYOKE, MA: April 10, 2020: The Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts.(Staff photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
HOLYOKE, MA: April 10, 2020: The Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts.(Staff photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
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With nursing homes and other long-term care settings getting hit hardest by COVID-19, the House passed a bill on Tuesday that would overhaul the way facilities and the state report the virus’s impact and share that information with the public and legislators.

The bill (H 4662) would require all long-term care facilities, assisted living residences, elderly housing facilities, and the Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke to report daily to local boards of health and the state Department of Public Health the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths among residents and staff at their facilities.

All of that data would have to be posted to DPH’s website and updated daily, and separately reported to the families or guardians of residents at long-term care facilities.

Originally filed by Reps. Ruth Balser of Newton, Mindy Domb of Amherst and Nika Elugardo of Jamaica Plain, the legislation would greatly increase the amount of information being provided about the impact of the coronavirus in these facilities.

The Department of Public Health has been reporting the total number of cases, deaths and facilities impacted in its daily report, and on Monday expanded to include data on individual facilities. The DPH daily report, however, only shows ranges of cases for individual facilities and no mortality figures.

The reporting also doesn’t reflect what’s happening at assisted living residences, as would be required under the bill.

The state’s data shows that 17 percent of all COVID-19 cases and 54 percent of all deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities, with 81 being the average age of residents who have died from the disease.

The bill that passed the House and now moves to the Senate would also require DPH to report weekly to the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means the number of COVID-19 cases and mortalities at these facilities, including aggregate data on the race, age and sex of the infected. – Matt Murphy/SHNS | 4/21/20 4:40 PM

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