Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that the state’s health department will now include data on race and ethnicity when it releases information from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Hogan spoke with reporters after he toured the Baltimore Convention Center, which will be used to house 250 beds for confirmed coronavirus patients who don’t need hospital care.
Hogan said the demographic data will include testing, hospitalization and mortality rates.
“I have also directed [the health department] to be as proactive as anyone in the nation on this with respect to the private labs across the county that are not currently tracking, or providing this data,” he said. “I am directing them to publish anything to us … as new data becomes available.”
However, Hogan said about 90 percent of the testing done by doctors are being sent to private labs outside the state and anticipate gaps in data.
The governor’s communication office tweeted that the data will be released this week.
Del. Nick Mosby (D-Baltimore) has led the push for the state to provide demographic data regarding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the potentially deadly respiratory disease caused by the virus. He tweeted Tuesday he’s called on the health department “for weeks to require uniformed data collection on COVID-19 testing.”
Mosby wrote a letter to the governor Monday requesting COVID-19 data. The letter, signed more than 70 lawmakers, requests that the demographic data include:
• Number of positive and negative COVID-19 cases by zip code residency.
• Number of individuals being tested for COVID-19 broken down by race.
• Number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 by race.
• Number of COVID-19 related inpatient hospitalizations by race.
• Number of COVID-19 deaths by race.
“Access to care, implicit bias, and other barriers to diagnosis and treatment further imperil communities already on the frontlines of multiple public health threats,” Mosby wrote. “This means that those communities are at the highest risk for catastrophic COVID-19 impacts because of comorbidity and a lack of community health resources.”
The Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law also issued a letter Monday to direct the U.S. Health and Human Services to report COVID-19 data in Black communities.
For instance, the letter highlights how Michigan’s health department presented data on how the state’s population stands at 14 percent, but make up 34 percent of the confirmed cases and 40 percent of the deaths.
In North Carolina, Blacks account for 22 percent of the state’s population but make up 36 percent of confirmed cases and 25 percent of the deaths.
“The data coming out of these local and state health departments is likely indicative of the disproportionate impact that Black communities are experiencing across the country,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the committee, wrote in the letter.
Meanwhile, Hogan announced the federal government made the Washington-Baltimore corridor “a hot spot” to provide additional resources to the region with more than five million people and hundreds of thousands of federal workers.
In terms of equipment, Hogan said the Federal Emergency Management Agency sent 200 ventilators to the state.
He said the federal government will designate specific resources to Montgomery, Prince George’s, Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard, Harford, Carroll, Frederick, Calvert, Charles and Queen Anne’s counties and Baltimore City.
As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, more than 9,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia. Nearly 200 people died in the D.C. region in the past 24 days, Hogan said.
In Maryland, the total confirmed cases are 4,371 and 103 deaths, according to the state’s Health Department. The majority-Black jurisdiction of Prince George’s, the state’s second-largest jurisdiction, has recorded the most cases at 1,020 and the most deaths at 26.
Thomas Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the number of single-day confirmed cases at 398 on Monday decreased to 364 on Tuesday.
“It’s only one day of data, but if confirmed over time, it would be a very good move in the right direction,” he said.
Another coronavirus testing site is planned for Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
Hogan announced strike teams for nursing homes will be assembled comprised of the National Guard, representatives from local and state health departments and hospital systems. In about 90 nursing homes and facilities, residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
The goal will be to help with triage care for residents, bring equipment and provide other needs for staff and residents.
Unfortunately, Hogan said the state has already spent between $1 billion to $2 billion to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
“I’m hoping to avoid major layoffs,” he said about the pandemic’s financial impact. “It’s going to be massive budget problems for us and every state in America. Just like there are major budget problems for individuals, small businesses and large businesses and the federal government.”