Gov. Wolf Announces Inclusion of Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation or Expression in COVID-19 Data Collection

May 13, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf today took another step in his commitment to fair treatment and 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.

It is a top priority to ensure that all people in Pennsylvania who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 have access to diagnostic testing. To ensure a healthy Pennsylvania for all, especially during these unprecedented times, the Wolf Administration will only partner with organizations and entities throughout our response to COVID-19 that have an established commitment to non-discriminatory practices.

This is a practice echoed in the governor’s statement of nondiscriminatory standards of care, announced on March 30.

“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.”

Since taking office, Governor Tom Wolf has fought for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians.

In April, he announced a Health Disparity Task Force, chaired by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, to address the unique needs of Pennsylvania’s vulnerable populations, including our LGBTQ community. The desire to collect SOGI data on COVID-19 cases was recommended on behalf of the advocacy from community leaders to the task force.

Any Pennsylvanian who feels they or a loved one have been discriminated against in any way can contact the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission here.

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