April 07, 2020

Harris, Colleagues Request COVID-19 Testing Data from CDC to Ensure Effective Response to the Pandemic

Members ask CDC for comprehensive demographic data about testing availability, health care access and more amid ongoing limited access to tests 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Tuesday joined Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and 15 of their colleagues in asking the 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. 

Along with Harris and Wyden, Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Gary Peters (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Representatives Yvette Clarke (D-NY), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), joined the request in a letter to CDC Director Robert R. Redfield.

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

The members requested the CDC publicly report demographic information collected on the 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.

They also requested that any updated PUI and Case Report Form include 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, as well as an input for “specialty” of the health care worker.

To allow government agencies and researchers access to the data, the members also requested that the data be made available as a National Center for Health Statistics public-use data file.

A copy of the letter can be found here.