It’s undeniable that open government and open records haven’t headed the right direction in the pandemic. Our state must lead the way toward greater transparency for all Texans.
This is exactly why I fight for stronger ethics and transparency laws — all government is a creation of the people, and Texans deserve nothing less.
COVID-19 changed our world forever and revealed the need for public reporting of COVID-19 cases in assisted living centers and nursing care facilities. During this pandemic, COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes and assisted living centers revealed a blind spot in the state’s open government laws.
Current law doesn’t mandate transparency for nursing care facilities and assisted living centers to disclose outbreaks and reveal the number of patients infected with COVID-19. Under the guise of “protected health information,” details on outbreaks are difficult to discover.
The stories are heartbreaking; it’s difficult to imagine what many families went through fearing for the lives of their parent, spouse, brother or sister in one of these facilities. On top of this, there are examples of people just trying to see their loved ones through an outside window who were instead chased off under threat.
Texans deserve a legislative fix, so this can never happen again. I fully support a nursing home patient and family Bill of Rights, which would guarantee access to a relative or family medical advocate in one of these facilities.
Additionally, to help families, I filed House Bill 3306. This bill allows families to get information relating to infectious communicable diseases in residential care facilities and keeps reports on cases from being hidden without revealing any identifying information.
For Texans with relatives in nursing facilities and those in the public with a right to know about the pandemic, this information could have made all the difference between not just safety but panic and peace of mind. I’m glad to be carrying this legislation and am adamant that we pass it to provide more “sunshine” for Texans. During Sunshine Week, I’m especially proud to fight for Texans’ right to honest, accountable and open government.
Mayes Middleton is the State Rep. for Texas House District 23.