It has been a year since President Biden signed the Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, requiring data disaggregation. Yet, CDC COVID-19 data still are not disaggregated in a way that allows policymakers to see how age, ethnicity, race, and gender operate to produce the disparities in COVID-19 infection rates and deaths.
As I look at the John Hopkins University dashboard (JHUD) data, I wonder how more states have ethnicity data than race? For example, when you select race, the dashboard shows that Texas does not have data by race. Yet Texas collects racial data on birth and death certificates.
California is another state on the JHUD without race data. However, the California Department of Public Health has data by race, ethnicity, and age but not reported at the intersection of these characteristics. California reports on the disparity in death rates and cases by race, ethnicity, and income, but none of the data is reported at the intersection of these characteristics.
Disaggregate the data
Reporting COVID-19 data by these aggregate categories masks the ways gender, race/ethnicity, and income operate to produce disparate outcomes. Only by disaggregating the data can we glean the nuanced ways our complex identities interact to make us more or less vulnerable to death or illness from contracting COVID-19.
I want COVID-19 data reported so we can see how many Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and other Asian Americans celebrated Lunar New Year 2020 (year of the rat) but were not alive to celebrate Lunar New Year 2021 (year of the ox) or Lunar New Year 2022 (year of the tiger). I am grateful that Mr. and Mrs. Low, one of my best friend’s parents who operate a grocery store in rural California, have not contracted the virus. I had the honor of celebrating the 2019 Lunar New Year with them, which happened to be Mr. Low’s year- year of the pig. This is Mrs. Low’s year – year of the tiger. I was born in the year of the horse.
I want COVID-19 data reported to see how many African Americans were alive to celebrate Black History Month in 2020 but are not alive to celebrate this Black History Month.
I want COVID-19 data reported to see how many women by race and ethnicity, who celebrated these cultural observances in 2020, are not alive to celebrate them now.
Happy Lunar New Year and Black History Month.