HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday 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, he said the Department of Health will be conducting extensive case histories investigations as part of contact tracing on those who test positive for the virus.
Wolf said 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.
He said 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.
He said 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.
Wolf said it’s a “top priority” to ensure that all people in Pennsylvania who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 have access to diagnostic testing.
“…. 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, 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.
Wolf said 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.