ATLANTA, April 20, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A new report by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) sheds light on on multiple factors affecting the collection of race and ethnicity data during the COVID-19 pandemic, which ultimately hampered the ability of public health epidemiologists to rapidly identify and respond to enormous disparities in the impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. Based on a 2021 assessment of 45 U.S. health departments, the report – Addressing Gaps in Public Health Reporting of Race and Ethnicity Data for COVID-19 – identifies and summarizes multiple factors impacting the availability of race and ethnicity data.
"Our findings reflect the health disparities we knew existed that COVID-19 laid bare before us," said Janet Hamilton, CSTE Executive Director. "The impact of COVID-19 on communities of color has been devastating, and our priorities must shift to improving collection of race and ethnicity data from people who seek care or testing, establishing automated and electronic ways for that information to be reported by health care providers and laboratories, and continued advocacy for resources to update information systems and bolster staffing at public health agencies across the U.S."
The report explores factors leading to this critical gap and points toward possible solutions to improve completeness of race and ethnicity in public health data. Several systemic factors contributing to reporting gaps include incomplete health care provider and laboratory reporting of race and ethnicity data to public health; the lack of a modern, interoperable public health data infrastructure; the need for additional staff at public health agencies to collect and organize this data; and the need to improve how patients are asked about race and ethnicity to ensure they understand how the information is used, and why it is important to provide.
"While improvements have been made during the COVID-19 response, we must continue to address the factors that impact the quality and completeness of race and ethnicity data," added Hamilton. "Only the most precise data and effective, interoperable surveillance systems will truly allow us to begin bridging these gaps and continue progress toward health equity."
To view CSTE’s full report, please click here.
Founded in 1951, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) represents the interests of State Epidemiologists from all 50 U.S. states and territories. CSTE is also the professional home to nearly 2300 practicing applied epidemiologists. For more information, visit https://www.cste.org/. Media contact: Jeremy Arieh, at 770-458-3811 or
SOURCE Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE)