April 14, 2020

Warner & Kaine Introduce Bill To Require Federal Government To Collect And Report Demographic Data On Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senator Elizabeth Warren to introduce the bicameral Equitable Data Collection and Disclosure on COVID-19 Act. The bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to collect and report racial and other demographic data on COVID-19 testing, treatment, and fatality rates, and provide a summary of the final statistics and a report to Congress within 60 days after the end of the public health emergency. It would require HHS to use all available surveillance systems to post daily updates on the CDC website showing data on testing, treatment, and fatalities, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, sex, age, socioeconomic status, disability status, county, and other demographic information. 

The legislation comes as reports across the United States point to stark racial disparities in COVID-19 cases and fatalities. In Michigan, Black residents account for 33% of confirmed COVID cases and 40% of fatalities, despite making up only 14% of the state’s population.  In Louisiana, 70% of those who have died from COVID-19 so far are Black, compared with 32% of the state’s population. Initial data from Boston shows that among people whose race was reported, more than 40% of people infected were Black, compared with only 25% of the population.

“It’s deeply troubling that the coronavirus is disproportionately impacting communities of color. It’s imperative that we get data to help us understand the scope of this crisis and take action to reduce racial disparities,” the Senators said.

Specifically, the Equitable Data Collection and Disclosure on COVID-19 Act would require the reporting of the following data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, sex, age, socioeconomic status, disability status, county, and other demographic information:

  • Data related to COVID-19 testing, including the number of individuals tested and the number of tests that were positive.
  • Data related to treatment for COVID-19, including hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions and duration;
  • Data related to COVID-19 outcomes, including fatalities.

The legislation would also authorize $50 million in funding for the CDC, state public health agencies, the Indian Health Service, and other agencies to improve their data collection infrastructure and create an inter-agency commission to make recommendations on improving data collection and transparency and responding equitably to this crisis. 

The Equitable Data Collection and Disclosure on COVID-19 Act is endorsed by the National Urban League, Lawyer’s Committee on Civil Rights, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum and National Action Network. In the House, the legislation is being introduced by Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL-02), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Representative Karen Bass (D-CA-37), Representative Barbara Lee (D- CA-13), and is co-sponsored by 80 of their colleagues. 

Warner and Kaine also joined their colleagues in sending a letter to Vice President Pence regarding the racial health disparities among COVID-19 patients. The letter highlights racial disparities in the mortality rate of the virus, calls for disaggregated racial data in COVID-19 case reporting, asks the Administration for more information on its outreach to minority communities, and requests that COVID-19 vaccine and drug trials include diverse participants.

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