CALIFORNIA—California health providers started collecting new data on gender identity and sexual orientation from patients infected with COVID-19. According to an announcement by the California Department of Public Health and Human Services on Tuesday, July 28, this order to understand the impact of COVID-19 on diverse communities.

Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary, stated that the regulations are intended to help the state study the infection rate of diseases in LGBTQ communities. The regulation will allow it to identify and address any gaps through public health programs. The regulations were effective immediately.

In the statement, Ghaly said that the state is also working to improve its data collection on COVID-19 patients’ race and ethnicity, and 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,” said Ghaly.

State Senator Scott Wiener and advocacy groups encouraged the state to identify the COVID-19 infection rate among gay and transgender people for several months. In order to make a state regulation for collecting data on infection diseases from those who identify as LGBTQ. Wiener implemented bill S.B. 932.

Wiener said in a statement that 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,” Weiner noted.

LGBTQ community advocates, including Equality California, agree with the state’s response. They have been requesting the state for the collection and reporting of the personal data.  Rick Chavez Zbur, executive director of Equality California, said in a statement, “The COVID-19 crisis has devastated the LGBTQ+ community. But for months, we haven’t had the data to understand how, why or exactly what to do about it.”

A vote on the bill will be taken place by the state’s Assembly Health Committee on August 4.