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Gov. Wolf announces inclusion of gender identity, sexual orientation in COVID-19 data collection

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Governor Tom Wolf is announcing ways the LGBTQ community will be counted in COVID-19 data.

As counties in the commonwealth move from the red to yellow phases, 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 Wolf administration says 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.

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.”

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.