Gaps in coronavirus data could 'bake in a whole new generation' of racial disparities

Coronavirus testing.
(Image credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Only 48 percent of reported coronavirus cases in the United States contain information on race and ethnicity, Politico reports, and experts warn that could result in long-term adverse effects in predominantly minority communities.

It is well-known that minorities account for a disproportionate number of coronavirus-related deaths, but specifics are missing. A few states have compiled the necessary data, but many haven't, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not tracked what percentage of people getting tested for the virus are minorities. "We can't develop a national strategy to reach the underserved, or know how well we're doing, until we have data that shows us if we're reaching them or not," said Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir during congressional testimony last week.

The lack of data means it's unclear if some of the country's most vulnerable communities will receive the testing, contact tracing, and medical resources they need to fight the virus, which would be especially concerning should cases surge again. But the problems created by the pandemic could last for a long time even if the virus is eventually under control. "Unless we use data and focus concretely on race, we are going to let COVID-19 bake in a whole new generation of disparities," said John Kim, the executive director of the racial justice research and policy organization Advancement Project California. Read more at Politico.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.