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Maryland Delegation Members Press State for Plans to Address COVID-19 Racial Disparities, Expand Testing

May 21, 2020
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -  Congresssman Jamie Raskin joined U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Representatives Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Anthony Brown, and David Trone (all D-Md.) in sending a letter to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan urging him to release complete COVID-19 demographic data on race and ethnicity, broken down by zip code. In their letter, the Members emphasize that the demographic data released today, showing COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on black Marylanders, only furthers the need for more granular data. Additionally, they ask Governor Hogan to ensure the data is being used to inform Maryland’s response efforts, targeting relief towards those most heavily impacted.

The Members write, “We appreciate your recent announcement that Maryland will begin to collect and publicly report data on race and ethnicity for individuals tested for COVID-19 and the first reports of this information today. We share your concern about the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 appears to be having on black Marylanders and believe that this initial data demonstrates a need for more granular reporting by zip code. Additionally, we urge you to report complete and comprehensive data for all patients as expeditiously as possible and ensure that this data is informing Maryland’s COVID-19 response efforts.”

They stress, “Based on Maryland’s initial limited data, we are seeing alarming trends with respect to race and ethnicity. For the 5,529 COVID cases that have race and ethnicity data available, 37% of patients are black and black residents comprise of 44% of COVID-related deaths, despite the fact that African Americans only make up 30% of the state’s population. We are seeing similarly concerning trends from other states and localities as well.”

The Members underscore the importance of this issue, noting, “If we are to have our best chance at combatting this public health crisis, we need full visibility into how this virus is affecting our communities.”

The Members also write that, while the CDC should work to collect this data on a national basis, “Unfortunately, we have seen many instances of leadership failures from this Administration, and as a result, states have stepped up to fill these voids. Maryland can do that here by ensuring the reporting of complete, accurate, and robust data for our state.”

The full text of the letter is available here.

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