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Meharry Medical College helps Congress file COVID-19 demographic data legislation

Posted at 4:38 PM, Apr 17, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — The coronavirus has attacked those old, young, black, white and other all across the world.

However, researches say there are more minorities are dying at higher rates from COVID-19.

In Nashville half of the cases of the coronavirus are white residents, 13% black, 12% other/multiracial and 15% cases are pending.

“The main thing driving us is the knowledge is when COVID-19 gets into minority communities because the disproportionate burden of hypertension, diabetes, obesity; the outcome will be much poorer than would be otherwise,” said Dr. James Hildreth.

Hildreth, an infectious disease doctor, and President of Meharry Medical College has now teamed up with Congress.

He said the efforts are to determine why more minorities are dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than other groups.

In a bill he helped with, it would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to collect and report racial, ethnic, and other demographic data on COVID-19 testing, treatment, and fatality rates, and provide a summary of the final statistics and a report to Congress within 60 days after the end of the public health emergency.

According to a release, it will require HHS to use all available surveillance systems to post daily updates on the CDC website showing the following data desegregated by race, ethnicity, sex, age, tribal affiliation, socioeconomic status, disability status, and county.

As well as authorize $50 million for the CDC and state public health agencies to improve their demographic data collection.

“COVID-19 has definitely shined a bright spotlight on the fact that in poor and minority communities there’s a disproportionate burden of all those things we talk about; asthma, lung diabetes, hypertension,” said Hildreth.

Meharry Medical College is offering free COVID-19 testing, and Hildreth is asking for everyone willing to get a test even if they’re not showing symptoms.

“We need testing and preemptive testing to make sure to identify positives and get them the cure they need as soon they need,” he said.

Under the bill, HHS will need to provide a summary of the final statistics and a report to Congress within 60 days after the end of the public health emergency.