Our Virus Data Demands Show Progress

July 20, 2020

Since the very beginning of the pandemic, MassCOSH has been pressed policymakers to mandate the collection of occupational information when someone tests positive for COVID-19. Together with our labor and community partners, our advocacy resulted in the passage of An Act addressing COVID-19 data collection and disparities in treatment and it’s already generating eye-opening information that will help save lives.
Starting in July, the MA DPH began posting daily data with information on the race, ethnicity and occupation of COVID-19 patients. For those interested, you can find the daily reports and occupational information here under “Additional COVID-19 Data.” Unfortunately, much of the occupational data is missing. With roadblocks to properly and methodically track occupational information identified, MassCOSH will fight to ensure this information and more is collected and shared publicly. By reporting on the occupation, industry, and employer of everyone who tests positive for COVID-19, we can identify and protect workers who have been most impacted by the virus and uncover and respond quickly to workplace outbreaks.
Another source of information is data on health and safety complaints made to Attorney General Maura Healey. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office began collecting workplace health and safety complaints on-line on May 19 when the state entered Phase 1 of reopening. Since that time they have received 911 calls, almost 20 per day. They also received 648 calls on their hotline relating to workplace health and safety from 3/23/20 to 7/14/20. The industries with the most complaints include retail/sales, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, nursing homes and healthcare facilities.