BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill this month implementing new reporting requirements on his public health apparatus, but experts warned Monday that the state is still not tracking enough information about COVID-19's impact on communities of color to plan targeted responses.

Medical and public health experts told a Senate panel that the pandemic has already wrought disproportionate havoc on low-income areas and people of color, who are more likely to be essential workers or to live in crowded conditions with higher transmission risks.

The state Senate launched a listening session Monday to receive feedback on what the administration and lawmakers can do as Massachusetts continues to navigate the outbreak and chart a path toward a new normal. During the first equity-themed portion of Monday's hearing, experts urged lawmakers to take additional steps beyond the new data-reporting law to get a better understanding of how different populations are affected.

"We're hamstrung," said Frank Robinson, vice president of public health for Baystate Health in Springfield. "I have one hand tied behind my back as we try and think about how do we intervene. It's really about data, and to be able to disaggregate by race, ethnicity and by locality."

All three experts at the first session — Robinson, Harvard School of Public Health professor Nancy Krieger, and Massachusetts Public Health Association Executive Director Carlene Pavlos — described racism as a public health crisis that directly led to more pronounced COVID impacts on Black and Latinx communities.

They argued the administration needs to track and publish information on cases and deaths not just by race or ethnicity, but also by economic and occupation indicators so that officials can understand who is most at risk.

"COVID-19 has pulled the thread that reveals our deep interconnections and profound societal divisions, together shaping the pandemic's course," Krieger said.

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