Reports of disproportionate coronavirus infection and death rates in black communities are exposing serious racial disparities in the pandemic’s impact. The federal government should be rigorously collecting demographic data on testing, treatment and outcomes, in order for policymakers to target resources and have a full picture of the disparities.
However, the federal government has neglected to release any public coronavirus data related to race, though it has on age and location. All racial data reported is currently coming from state and local sources, which vary widely in the level of detail of their reporting. Among the most alarming numbers to date are those from Louisiana, where black Americans account for 32% of the population and 70% of coronavirus deaths, and Milwaukee County, where black Americans account for 26% of the population and 81% of coronavirus deaths.
CREW has requested records from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on coronavirus infections and death by race and ethnicity, as well as communications on data collection by race, ethnicity, primary language, gender, disability status or socioeconomic status. CREW also has requested communications between the CDC and Trump, the White House, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force on this data collection.
Without these records, the public does not know the full extent to which this pandemic is exacerbating pre-existing healthcare and racial inequities. Policy makers, advocates, and healthcare providers need access to racial and other demographic data so that they can directly address healthcare needs for those most affected within their own constituencies and communities. It is vital that there is transparent, uniform, and rigorous collection and dissemination of federally collected data on the coronavirus’s effect on different racial and socioeconomic communities. Doing any less means the federal government is standing in the way of all communities receiving the quality of care they deserve, especially black Americans and other communities that are currently hardest-hit by the coronavirus.