TRENTON, NJ – To fill gaps in COVID-19 demographic data, the Assembly Appropriations Committee cleared legislation, Assembly Bill 4253, on Monday to require commercial laboratories to record and include in mandated reporting a patient’s race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation and gender identity data.
Under the bill, a patient would not be compelled to disclose this information to a clinical laboratory, health care provider or other entity. Rather the measure makes provisions so that laboratory order forms and electronic health record systems are equipped to collect this data if patients opt to provide it.
“Including these demographic pieces into the data profiles of COVID-19 patients ensures that public health surveillance is as robust as it can be. It gives us the opportunity to develop a more complete epidemiological picture, from which we can make better informed policy decisions and protect people’s health," said Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Burlington), who serves as chairman of the Assembly Health Committee.
“Having a greater multitude of data points to examine may bring to light new information about the way the disease spreads and allow us to better allocate resources where they are needed. More critical, collecting this data will help us gain better insight into the disproportionate impact COVID-19 is having on our minority communities, so we can more decisively address health inequities,” added Conaway.