April 07, 2020

Van Hollen, Wyden, Colleagues Request COVID-19 Comprehensive Testing Data from CDC to Include Sex, Race, and Ethnicity

Members ask CDC for comprehensive demographic data about testing availability, health care access, and more amid ongoing limited access to tests

Today U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), along with 15 colleagues, asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to publicly report all available information about who is able to access COVID-19 tests. This information, which continues to be scarce, will help shed crucial light on how the pandemic is impacting communities across America. The members’ request comes amid calls from local lawmakers in Maryland for the state to release demographic breakdowns of COVID-19 data.

"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 members wrote. "To this end, it is important to document if particular groups in the United States are at greater risk for the virus and why."

The members of Congress requested data broken down by sex, race, ethnicity, whether a patient is a health care provider, and any other available demographics. The CDC is currently only disclosing a subset of its data, primarily the age groups of those testing positive, hospitalizations, and fatalities. 

The members 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; 
c) hospitalizations; 
d) intensive care unit admissions; and 
e) fatalities.

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. To allow government agencies and researchers access to the data, the members also requested that the data be made available as a National Center for Health Statistics public-use data file.

The full text of the letter is available here.

Joining Senators Van Hollen and Wyden in signing the letter were Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Peters (D-Mich.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and U.S. Representatives Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)