February 26, 2021

Van Hollen, Warren, Pressley, Lee, Kelly, Bass, and Colleagues Reintroduce Bicameral Legislation to Require Federal Government to Collect and Report Coronavirus Demographic Data – Including Race and Ethnicity

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), and Karen Bass (D-Calif.) in reintroducing 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, vaccination, and fatality rates and use all available surveillance systems to post daily updates on the CDC website showing data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, sex, age, socioeconomic status, disability status, county, and other demographic information.  

From the beginning of this pandemic, Black, brown, and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) people in the United States have suffered the largest burden of illness, hospitalization and death from COVID19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that AI/AN people are nearly four times as likely as white people to be hospitalized for COVID-19, and that Black and Hispanic/Latino people are about twice as likely to die of COVID-19 as white people. Nonetheless, significant gaps in data reporting remain. Even a year into the pandemic, race and ethnicity data is available for only half (51%) of COVID-19 cases. 

The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.),  Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Representatives Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Brenda L. Lawrence (D-Mich.), Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.), Val B. Demings (D-Fla.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Dwight Evans (D-Penn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del), Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (D-Ga.), Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.).

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; Data related to COVID-19 vaccinations, including the number and percentage of vaccines administered to each group, the number of vaccines offered, accepted, refused, and the most common reasons for refusal.

It would also authorize $50 million in emergency supplemental funding to HHS to conduct or support data collection on the racial and ethnic implications of COVID-19, including supporting capacity building in state and local health departments to collect and transmit racial and ethnic data. Finally, it creates a Commission on Ensuring Data for Health Equity to provide guidance on how to better collect and analyze demographic data in responding to future public health emergencies. 

The Equitable Data Collection and Disclosure on COVID-19 Act is endorsed by the National Birth Equity Collaborative, Seattle Indian Health Board, and  National Council of Urban Indian Health.