California lawmakers urge state to release demographic data on coronavirus cases, deaths

In an April 10 letter to the state's Health and Human Services Agency, Rep. Judy Chu and five other lawmakers said subgroup data would identify and address health disparities.
(File Photo)

A group of legislators is calling on the California Health and Human Services Agency to collect and publicly release disaggregated demographic information on the novel coronavirus infections and mortality to assist the fight against the spread of the disease.

In a letter issued Friday to agency Secretary Mark Ghaly — and signed by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), whose 27th U.S. Congressional District includes Pasadena and Altadena — six Democratic lawmakers said subgroup data was necessary to identify and address health disparities during the pandemic.

For example, while infection and mortality rates in communities of color are disproportionately high, testing rates are low, the letter pointed out.

“Data is critical to addressing racial, socioeconomic and other disparities in our health system, which often reflect underlying social determinants of health,” the letter continued.

Chu in an email Friday to the Valley Sun said demographic information was vital to informing policy and helping identify where resources and supports should be directed.

“All of us are equally at risk from the coronavirus in theory,” the congresswoman said. “But in reality, people of color, who disproportionately staff the frontline jobs in healthcare, agriculture and infrastructure, or who live in more densely packed communities, are facing far higher rates of infection.

“We are requesting this data so we can illustrate the true picture of how a pandemic affects our country,” Chu continued.

Other representatives from California who signed the letter include Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), Linda Sánchez (D-Whittier), Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Nanette Barragán (D-San Pedro).

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