On September 25th, The Elara Group submitted a public records request for data related to the vape-related illnesses in the Commonwealth. On October 9th, we received notice that our requests have been rejected - in full - with DPH claiming numerous exemptions.
Withholding this information is absolutely not in the best interests of the public, and it is unconscionable that DPH is arguing otherwise. DPH’s peers in other states have not been this secretive, and neither has the CDC; they continue to conduct effective investigations while simultaneously keeping the public informed.
Although they provided multiple reasons why the requested records are exempt from our request, this quote is particularly notable.
Additionally, information relating to DPH’s ongoing investigation of unexplained vaping associated pulmonary disease in Massachusetts has been withheld pursuant to G.L. c. 4 § 7 (26)(d) in order to protect the integrity of policies under development relating to this disease outbreak. … This disclosure of this information could compromise future investigative efforts and is, therefore, not in the public interest.
In other words, Massachusetts' Department of Public Health does not consider it in the public interest to provide the public with information regarding a declared crisis that is hurting citizens. We're continuing to pursue this matter in the interest of public health.
And to that end, we're suing.