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Baker Introduces New COVID-19 Data Collection Bill

One day after he signed a bill the Legislature sent him expanding COVID-19 reporting requirements, Gov. Charlie Baker filed a new data-collection proposal that he hopes will "put a finer point" on tracking the virus's impact.

At a press conference in Lawrence, Baker said his bill would build on the law he signed by requiring more reporting of COVID-related data to the Department of Public Health, empowering the DPH to issue fines to any parties that do not comply, and by removing elder housing facilities from mandates to report health information about their tenants.

"We believe this will help improve the spirit of the law to have accurate and complete reporting," Baker said.

The governor took the full ten days allotted to him to review the bill before signing it and could have returned it with an amendment, but opted to put the new requirements into law while introducing an entirely new bill.

Baker announced the legislation following a tour of New Balance's Lawrence factory, which has pivoted to producing personal protective equipment during the pandemic, saying he filed it on Monday.

The law Baker signed Sunday requires elder care facilities — including elderly housing as well as nursing homes, state-run soldiers' homes and assisted living facilities — to submit daily reports to local health departments compiling COVID-19 cases and deaths among residents and staff.

The law also requires the DPH to publish detailed information about the impact of the virus on Massachusetts and creates a task force to study and report on how to support vulnerable populations, particularly the elderly and communities of color, that have been hit hard by the outbreak.

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