DeLaney and Pfaff propose timely COVID-19 data for nursing homes and schools

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Representative Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) and State Representative Tonya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute), both members of the House Education Committee, today released the following comments in response to facility-level COVID-19 data finally released by the Holcomb administration for Indiana's long-term care centers. Their concern extends to schools as well as nursing homes. 

DeLaney was among a group including media, families, lawmakers and other senior advocates fighting for transparency to protect the most vulnerable Hoosiers and their loved ones.

“The free flow of information is critical in the era of COVID-19,” DeLaney continued. “This nursing home data fiasco should serve as a lesson to Governor Holcomb for schools. We cannot make the same mistakes with our students.”

“The data released last week confirmed what we already knew: nursing homes and long-term care facilities are a hotspot for COVID-19, and that taxpayers were right to demand transparency,” DeLaney said. “What we did not learn is when these cases or outbreaks happened, or why the Governor withheld these numbers for so long. For months during the pandemic, families were unable to make data-driven decisions about their loved ones, and I fear that history could repeat itself as schools contemplate reopening.”

Pfaff, a career educator who has noted the challenges teachers have faced amid the pandemic, believes that prompt COVID-19 data will help schools.

“As a teacher myself, I understand the incredible risk all educators and families will be taking when they must go back to in-person classes,” Pfaff said. “The very least Indiana can do for these teachers, students and families is to make the information pertinent to their return clear, timely and easily accessible.”

DeLaney and Pfaff suggest that state officials begin devising a strategy for how they plan to track and publicly report cases of COVID-19 in schools, as the sharing of similar nursing home data has presented some difficulties. Last week's nursing home data release suggested that Indiana is still missing historical figures from a number of these state-funded facilities. The data will take another month to be transferred to the official dashboard, so instead, state officials will provide updates to a historical file each Monday.

For schools, the two legislators suggest implementing, at minimum, a dashboard feature that highlights cases per county, school district and school building. Presumably parents would be informed promptly and completely.

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