Durbin, Warren, Colleagues to Introduce Bicameral Bill to Require Federal Government to Collect and Report National COVID-19 Demographic Data

WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), along with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), is introducing 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 nationwide, 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 publicly on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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 racial health disparities present in Illinois are being tragically underscored by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. If we truly want to address these disparities, we must report demographic public health data on race and ethnicity.  Providing health care providers and the general public with this data is essential in assessing the scope of the virus in the black population and other minority communities,” Durbin said.

The legislation comes as reports across the United States point to stark racial disparities in COVID-19 cases and fatalities. While black residents make up nearly 15 percent of the Illinois’ total population, they account for 43 percent of all COVID-19 deaths. The situation in Chicago is further concerning, with black communities bearing the burden of 64 percent of total deaths, despite comprising only about 30 percent of the city’s population. Today, black Chicagoans are dying from coronavirus at nearly five times the rate of their white counterparts.

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.

It 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 legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT),  Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Gary Peters (D-MI). 

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. 

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.