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California to Track Covid-19 Data Based on Sexual Orientation

July 28, 2020, 8:50 PM

California health-care providers will have to record the sexual orientation and gender identity of Covid-19 patients under regulations announced Tuesday.

The regulations are part of the state’s effort to study the infection rate of communicable diseases in LGBTQ communities, which will allow it to identify and address disparities through public health programs, California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly said in a statement. The regulations take effect immediately.

Ghaly said the state is also working to improve its data collection on Covid-19 patients’ race and ethnicity. He added that about one-third of the cases reported don’t include that data.

“We need that to improve so that we have a better sense of where transmission is happening, which communities are impacted, and what the magnitude of that impact” is, Ghaly said.

The state is asking labs and health providers to gather the information on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as race and ethnicity, and submit it to the state’s department of public health.

State Sen. Scott Wiener (D) and advocacy groups have pushed the state for months to look into the coronavirus infection rate for gay and transgender people. Wiener introduced a bill (S.B. 932) to create a state program for collecting data on communicable diseases from those who identify as LGBTQ.

Wiener said in a statement he will continue to push for the bill to codify the agency’s actions into law. The data collection “is essential to ensure that our community gets the resources it needs moving forward,” he said.

The state’s Assembly Health Committee will vote on the bill on Aug. 4.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tiffany Stecker in Sacramento, Calif. at tstecker@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com; Alexis Kramer at akramer@bloomberglaw.com

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