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Group continues to demand release of racial data from the administration

Washington, DC (April 10, 2020) — On Monday, April 7th the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, joined by more than 400 medical professionals, sent a letter to Secretary Azar at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) advocating for the release of race and ethnicity data for COVID-19 tests, cases and outcomes to enable public health officials and policymakers to better respond to the pandemic. To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has done very little in response to our call for full transparency. On April 8th, the agency released very limited race and ethnicity data covering only 14 states for the month of March.  Despite only covering a subset of states, this limited data set confirms what we already know – that African Americans are being hit the hardest by this pandemic. 

“The Trump Administration acknowledged this week that African American communities are particularly vulnerable to this pandemic, yet has not committed to full transparency and accountability,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “This health crisis is ravaging through Black communities and we cannot wait any longer.  We demand that the CDC immediately release all of the data that it has collected with respect to COVID-19 and to prioritize the needs of African Americans and communities of color to ensure they are receiving swift access to testing, diagnoses and care required to curb this epidemic.”

Clarke continued: “The White House meeting for African American leaders outlining its response to COVID-19 was woefully inadequate in light of urgent calls that have been made for action. African Americans across the country have every reason to be alarmed at the administration’s anemic response to the disproportionate impact that this crisis is having on communities of color. This pandemic is exposing the systemic racism and bias embedded in our healthcare system and these disparities must drive the response by our federal and state health officials and lawmakers. We continue to demand that HHS and CDC release all current and comprehensive race and ethnicity data for all 50 states to ensure that race and ethnicity data is being collected on all individuals being tested and hospitalized patients, and to take all necessary steps to ensure that African American communities in particular receive increased access to testing and related healthcare.”

The race and ethnicity data provided by the CDC was only available for 580 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 out of 1,482 reported patients. Despite incomplete demographic information, the data shows that African Americans are significantly overrepresented among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. While only 18 percent of the report’s population was Black, an alarming 33 percent of hospitalized patients were Black. This data confirms our suspicions – that African Americans are highly vulnerable to the virus.  

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About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 56th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.”  The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes.  For more information, please visit