The Capital-Star found several of Mastriano's letters and press releases from 2020, that were reported to have been deleted from his website, via an Internet archive resource. In one of the documents from the 17th of March, 2020, Mastriano stated that he was worried about the fact that “existing HIPAA regulations are threatening our health and the lives of our people. …” The document reads:
“I am concerned that the current HIPAA regulations threaten the lives of our patients and are denying Pennsylvania people of knowing whether they came into contact with someone who is contagious. This urgent measure is required to provide vital and life-saving medical information with patients who might have been exposed to the dangerous virus. The new information that is expected to be made available will help us combat the spread of Coronavirus.”
Mastriano is now building his own brand on “personal freedom,” but introduced an amendment that would require for the Federal government temporarily to stop HIPAA, as well as “allow for full disclosure of details that are currently considered private, and are not disclosed to the public.” Mastriano said:
“It is extremely troubling to note that federal officials have not taken initiative to reverse this harmful policy that is threatening our citizens. This situation evolves daily. It's my primary concern to act in a way most beneficial to safeguarding public health. This will enhance the transparency of government to stop the spread of this disease.
The report states that the March 17, 2020 release was the senator's “first official release referencing COVID-19.”
“At that time, Pennsylvania recorded just under 100 COVID cases. [Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf] would ordain non-“life sustainable” businesses to shutter in two days' time; schools had only been ordered closed until March 30, and no one had yet died of the virus,” the Capital-Star said.
Senators followed-up on the interview with two other official announcements similar to the one he had previously issued and a March 19th letter addressed to President Donald Trump called for the removal of HIPAA.
“Existing federal law prevents the sharing of names of COVID-19 persons, and this endangers the lives of those who come in close contact with them,” the letter states in part.
The senator also issued an announcement on the 26th of March concerning a bill that would remove the state-level confidentiality safeguards in the declaration of a disaster. The release says:
“At present, the law permits the Health Department to keep records and reports on contagious diseases completely confidential,” said Mastriano. “Unfortunately ,this is not the case. The Health Department has been using the outdated law to hide crucial information in the current pandemic. The change in the law of 1955 only affects the information related to the pandemic.”
“It is disheartening that neighboring states have been more transparent about potential cases,” said the official.
The Capital-Star reported that a number of these statements are no longer available accessible on the official website of Mastriano's state in March 2022.
The hopeful governor also stated to the ABC News affiliate in 2020 that privacy isn't as important when dealing with an “contagious disease.”
“We have to protect their privacy, but when it comes to a contagious disease, we should be able to know, ‘yes, this person had it,' and so then the word will go out if I've had contact with him or her,” the official stated to ABC-27 in a statement, adding that the failure to act will mean the Gov. Wolf and the then-Health Secretary Rachel Levine have “blood on their hands.”
The campaign of Mastriano and his Senate office did not respond to requests for comment According to the report. Notably, his plan to repeal the law governing privacy in Pennsylvania's medical field did not get a vote in committee.
Tim Murtaugh, an advisor to the gubernatorial candidate Lou Barletta, told the newspaper that Mastriano's plan was an “dangerous idea.”
“Directing the government to broadcast the personal medical information of private citizens is a dangerous idea that should never even be considered,” Murtaugh stated. “[Barletta] wants to keep the government out of people's lives as much as possible, not create a frenzy by slapping a ‘Scarlet C' on people who contract COVID-19.”
Recent polls have shown that the Republican primary will most likely to be a two-man race between Mastriano and Barletta. But, with Democrat Governor. Tom Wolf (D) leaving his post, Republicans have a clear chance of winning the governor's office. Recent polls, according to Barletta, were a “reflection on what we're seeing on the ground,” because he's running an “huge grassroots campaign.”
A survey carried out by the Trafalgar Group from February 1 to 4, among 1,070 potential Republican primary voters, showed Barletta outshining state Sen. Doug Mastriano by 4.2 percent and receiving 24.1 percent of the vote, compared Mastriano's 19.9 percent.