Rotary Golf 2024

Pandemic ignites need for Open Government at all levels

by | Jun 11, 2020 | Opinion

Texans have been wit­nessing things that would have been unthinkable until now: Surge teams, testing of nursing homes for COVID-19 and the National Guard helping to dis­infect nursing home facilities around the state.

This is the time for the pub­lic to have access to informa­tion for their safety, protection and understanding. Govern­ment at all levels should be releasing information so the public has confidence and clarity as to what is happen­ing.

An example of where in­formation should be more forthcoming is the nursing home arena. There have been instances where government at all levels won’t release in­formation on which healthcare facilities have had infections or deaths and which ones have not. Certain groups have steadfastly refused to identify facilities where cases of CO­VID-19 have been confirmed. With Texas families desper­ately concerned about their loved ones in these centers, this is not productive or con­structive.

Some groups have cited state and federal privacy laws in refusing citizens› requests for this information. That rea­son ignores the fact that our privacy statutes prohibit re­lease of personal information that can identify a particular patient, not the facility where the patient became ill — or how many patients from a lo­cation were infected or died.

Federal authorities have in­dicated they intend to release information soon. But that’s not a permanent fix.

We need to encourage health authorities at all levels to dis­cuss outbreaks and impacts in nursing homes. This will help distraught family members to understand what is happening medically and not rely on so­cial media and the rumor mill for information about family members.

It’s important to remember that this is the people’s busi­ness, not just the business of corporations and the govern­ment. Citizens may not need personally identifiable infor­mation about a nursing home’s infected patients, but they do need to know whether they or their loved ones are in a pre­carious or dangerous situation.

In the next legislative ses­sion I will file legislation al­lowing public access to timely, detailed statistical information about disease transmission and mortality rates in healthcare facilities. The information would not be patient-specific, but it would be facility-specif­ic.

As consumers we need this information to make effective healthcare decisions for our­selves and our loved ones. As citizens, we need the informa­tion for accountability reasons and to understand what is oc­curring.

The citizen is the ultimate decision maker in both our economic and our governmen­tal systems. This pandemic has shown that it’s time for Texans to get access to information necessary to make sound de­cisions about the welfare of their families and loved ones.

For more stories like this, see the June 11 issue or subscribe online.

By Rep. Todd Hunter, State Representative (R), Corpus Christi, State District 32

Photos online

0 Comments

Public Notice - Subscribe

Related News

Fixer Uppers

Fixer Uppers

Recently, I saw something I haven’t seen in many years. A young man driving a car he was fixing up. It was an older Mustang. By older I mean a 90’s model. The car had spots of primer, there were a few dents, and the exhaust system appeared to be loose. By John Moore...

read more
Who’s counting when it comes to columns?

Who’s counting when it comes to columns?

When this newspaper column began in 2014, my wife asked me a question. Wife: “How long do you intend to write this column?” Me: “Oh, I don’t know. I guess I’ll write 500 of them and then hang it up. This column is number 500. By Bob Moore For more stories about the...

read more
Don’t eat that

Don’t eat that

When I was a kid, I had to sneak around if I wanted to eat certain things. Now that I’m an adult and in charge, I still have to sneak around if I want to eat certain things. I miss the days when no one knew anything about gluten, trans fats, cholesterol,...

read more
Texas counties among nation’s fastest growing

Texas counties among nation’s fastest growing

Recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that six of the 10 fastest-growing counties in the United States from 2022 to 2023 were in Texas. According to the Texas Tribune, Kaufman County, just east of Dallas, led the list with a 7.6% increase in new...

read more
Read this. Build a stronger community.

Read this. Build a stronger community.

Saddened. Embarrassed. Determined. These three words evoke distinct feelings and emotions. In the context of an opinion piece we ran in the paper four and a half years ago, they described the aftermath of a community that lost its newspaper. After 130 years in...

read more
Just like mom used to make

Just like mom used to make

Men have man caves because they want the room they had as a kid back. They also spend the rest of their days trying to find the recipes of their favorite childhood dishes. The ones like their mom used to make. By John Moore For more on this story see the March 7, 2024...

read more
Pet ownership: A lifetime commitment

Pet ownership: A lifetime commitment

He was crossing the road. Over and over. I was surprised someone hadn’t hit him with their car. I was also surprised the coyotes hadn’t gotten him. It was 9 o’clock at night and according to the residents of the small strip of country road, he’d been out there for a...

read more
Hold, please

Hold, please

It appears that telephone landlines may be on their way out. CNN Business reported that recently, AT&T applied for a waiver in the state of California to stop servicing traditional landlines. Both AT&T and Verizon have both said they want to move away from...

read more
Dewey or don’t we?

Dewey or don’t we?

On Christmas Eve 2008, there were just three of us working in the office. Well, technically, there was one of us working, the other two were there. A couple of the young ladies on staff either didn’t have enough vacation time built up or they were saving it for...

read more
Public Notice - Subscribe