As a part of North Carolina’s response to COVID 19 the NC Department of Health & Human Services is providing a publicly available online COVID 19 Dashboard that features race & ethnicity demographics and more.
This expanded capability will empower residents to monitor the impact of COVID 19 in North Carolina, while other states across the country like Maryland advocate for a similar standard transparency.
On Friday March 27, 2020 Senator Elizabeth Warren, Representative Ayanna Pressly, Represntative Robin Kelly, Senator Kamala Harris, and Senator Cory Booker sent a letter to Secretary Alex Azar that reads in part:
We write to call on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its sub-agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and other relevant agencies, to monitor and address racial disparities in our nation’s response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID19) public health emergency.”
It is critical that the federal government make a concerted effort to account for existing racial disparities in health care access and how persistent inequities may exacerbate these disparities in the weeks and months to come as our nation responds to this global health pandemic. We urge HHS to work with states, localities, and private labs to better collect data on health disparities as we continue to respond to this pandemic.”
To start, the CDC is currently failing to collect and publicly report on the racial and ethnic demographic information of patients tested for and affected by COVID-19. 1 Our concerns echo those from some physicians: that decisions to test individuals for the novel coronavirus may be “more vulnerable to the implicit biases that every patient and medical professional carry around with them,” potentially causing “black communities and other underserved groups …[to] disproportionately mis[s] out on getting tested for COVID-19.” 2 Without demographic data, policy makers and researchers will have no way to identify and address ongoing disparities and health inequities that risk accelerating the impact of the novel coronavirus and the respiratory disease it causes.”
Without demographic data on the race and ethnicity of patients being tested, the rate of positive test results, and outcomes for those with COVID-19, it will be impossible for practitioners and policy makers to address disparities in health outcomes and inequities in access to testing and treatment as they emerge. This lack of information will exacerbate existing health disparities and result in the loss of lives in vulnerable communities.”
As the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States continues to grow exponentially, we urge you not to delay collecting this vital information, and to take any additional necessary steps to ensure that all Americans have the access they need to COVID-19 testing and treatment.”