The Baltimore Sun on tracking the coronavirus by race

Health disparities by race in this country are well documented. African American mothers are more likely to die in child birth, or shortly after, than white moms. Rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity are also higher in racial minorities, who are also more likely to die from these diseases. And studies have shown many of these inequalities exist even when you take income out of the equation.

Yet, as the country battles its biggest health crisis in decades, with no end in site, our federal and state health officials have not been tracking deaths from COVID-19 by race. This despite the fact that all the underlying health conditions people of color are more likely to suffer from will increase their chances of death from COVID-19.

African American lawmakers across the country, including state Del. Nick Mosby of Baltimore and other members of the Legislative Black Caucus, are calling for this vital demographic information to be included in data collection and released to the public — and rightfully so. The state is already tracking deaths and cases by age, gender and geographic location, why would they not make the data available by race as well? Health officials will not get a clear and detailed picture of the progression of the disease if they don’t.

American cities with large African American populations — including Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee and New Orleans — are quickly becoming hot spots for the virus, and the handful of areas that have begun collecting race data show black residents are disproportionately affected. Perhaps testing needs to be targeted in such communities. ...

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