Commentary: Carper, Coons seek additional COVID-19 info from CDC

EDITOR’S NOTE: U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and Sen. Chris Coons, both D-Del., joined Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and 14 other colleagues Tuesday to urge Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to publicly report all available information about who is able to access COVID-19 tests, which continue to be scarce. 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. Joining the request to CDC Director Robert R. Redfield were Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Gary 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.).

Dear Director Redfield:

We write to respectfully request that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publicly report all available demographics data related to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) testing.

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

We applaud the CDC for reporting the COVID-19 rates across different age groups. The public now knows that all age groups, including young adults, are vulnerable to contracting the virus, but that older adults are at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19. This has significantly informed the government’s public health response.

We respectfully request the following from the CDC upon receipt of this letter:

1)    As part of your public reports on age groups, please report COVID-19 case rates for the following demographics on your 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.

2)    Please include the following on any updated PUI and Case Report Form:

a)     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 (https://aspe.hhs.gov/system/files/pdf/76331/index.pdf).  For example, the ethnicity categories were modified from Hispanic or Latino to multiple categories such as Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano/a, Puerto Rican, etc.; and

b)    an input for ‘specialty’ of the health care worker.

3)    To allow government agencies and researchers access to the data, please make the above COVID-19 data available as a National Center for Health Statistics public-use data file.

Thank you for considering these requests and please keep us apprised on your plans to publicly report the important data requested.