Letter asks Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to collect demographic data about testing availability, health care access and more amid ongoing coronavirus testing delays and limited testing capacity
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and 15 colleagues to ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to publicly report all available demographics data related to COVID-19 testing to help identify if particular groups are at greater risk for the virus and why.
“While the coronavirus pandemic is an economic and public health crisis in every corner of the country, I am outraged by reports of higher infection and death rates among minority communities,” Klobuchar said. “That’s why I joined my colleagues in urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect demographic data so we can identify and track the factors leading to health disparities and inequalities during this public health crisis and ensure vital resources are provided to those most in need.”
The CDC is currently only reporting coronavirus rates across age groups, and the letter requests the disclosure of additional testing data including sex, race, ethnicity, whether a patient is a health care provider, and any other available demographics.
"As COVID-19 spreads into more American communities, government agencies and academic and industry researchers are working hard to understand the depth and breadth of the pandemic and its impact on the health and well-being of Americans," the lawmakers wrote in their letter to the CDC. "To this end, it is important to document if particular groups in the United States are at greater risk for the virus and why."
In addition to Klobuchar and Wyden, the letter was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Gary Peters (D-MI), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Representatives Yvette Clarke (D-NY), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) joined the request in a letter to CDC Director Robert R. Redfield.
The lawmakers requested the CDC publicly report demographic information collected on the Human Infection with 2019 Novel Coronavirus Person Under Investigation (PUI) and Case Report Form - sex, race, ethnicity, whether a patient is a health care provider and any other available demographics - as a function of:
a) access to testing;
b) positive test results;
d) intensive care unit admissions; and
They also requested that any updated PUI and Case Report Form include updated categories for race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status consistent with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Guidance on Data Collection Standards, as well as an input for “specialty” of the health care worker.
The members also requested that the data be made available as a National Center for Health Statistics public-use data file to allow government agencies and researchers access to the information.
Full text of the letter is available HERE.