Maryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact

Maryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact
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The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus (MLBC) is calling for the state to produce racialized data in its coronavirus reports, according to a letter obtained by the Baltimore Sun.

“While it is clear COVID-19 does not discriminate among its victims, racial health disparities, access to care, diagnosis and treatment have long been a concern of minority communities,” State Sen. Charles Sydnor (D) wrote in a Wednesday letter to Gov. Larry Hogan (R ). 

The MLBC’s request comes after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released their own racialized data, showing black people consisted of 35 percent of coronavirus cases and 40 percent of deaths, despite only making up 14 percent of the state population. Similar data from the New York City Health Department shows black and Latino neighborhoods had higher rates of contracting the disease. 

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The trend follows an already-existing disparity among people of color and access to healthcare. 

“I understand there’s a lot going on in trying to keep everyone safe and at home,” Del. Darryl Barnes, chairman of the MLBC, told the Sun. “But this data is critically important.”

A spokesman for Hogan told the Sun that the state is seeking information about the races of patients from testing sites.

"It is not reported by private labs,” he said. “So, we are exploring the process for getting it.”

The MLBC and the governor’s office did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Hill. 

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On Wednesday Democratic lawmakers called on Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to provide national racialized data on the coronavirus.

“Any attempt to contain COVID-19 in the United States will have to address its potential spread in low-income communities of color, first and foremost to protect the lives of people in those communities, but also to slow the spread of the virus in the country as a whole,” Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: Trump ratchets up Twitter turmoil Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues Warren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in MORE and Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyHouse Democrats unveil measure to condemn police brutality Warren's VP bid faces obstacle: Her state's Republican governor Democrats blast CDC report on minorities and COVID-19 MORE wrote in a letter.

Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Memo: Trump ratchets up Twitter turmoil Biden: 'More than one African American woman' being considered for VP Klobuchar on defense as Floyd death puts spotlight on record MORE (Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerWarren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Senators ask DeVos to adjust FAFSA form due to the coronavirus pandemic MORE (N.J.) and Rep. Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyDemocrats blast CDC report on minorities and COVID-19 Harris pushes for task force addressing racial disparities in coronavirus pandemic Collecting and reporting ethnicity stats on COVID-19 matters for the health of everyone MORE (R-Ill.) also signed on to the letter.

“This lack of information will exacerbate existing health disparities and result in the loss of lives in vulnerable communities,” they added.