Federal data updates, Feb. 7

Since our main stories this week focused on NYC, here are a couple of updates from the federal public health agencies. This includes CDC vaccination data, vaccination demographics, and a survey from the Department of Education.

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Access barriers lead to vaccination disparity in NYC

27 states are now reporting race and ethnicity data for their vaccinations. This week, New York joined that number. New York City also started reporting these data last Sunday, as I noted in that day’s issue. Despite promises from city and state leadership to prioritize equity in the vaccine rollout, the numbers so far are showing white New Yorkers getting vaccinated at much higher rates than their Black and Hispanic/Latino neighbors.

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Vaccinations so far are perpetuating existing inequity

The data we have so far continue to show significant disparities. In 23 states with available data, white Americans are being vaccinated at higher rates than Black Americans, a recent analysis by Kaiser Health News’ Hannah Recht and Lauren Weber found. This analysis followed a similar study that I cited two weeks ago—Recht and Weber write that “disparities haven’t significantly changed” with two more weeks and several more states reporting.

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Racism is a public health threat

This week, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced that the association recognizes racism as a public health threat. The association is adopting a new policy which acknowledges systemic racism, cultural racism, and interpersonal racism as barriers to healthcare for many Americans and as threats to equitable public health across the country. Although the policy does not specifically address COVID-19, it speaks to the impact that America’s racist history and healthcare system has had in making it more likely for Black Americans to become infected with the coronavirus and suffer worse health outcomes.

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COVID source callout: Missouri

Missouri presents its race and ethnicity data in pie charts, showing the percents of cases and deaths that are reported in each category. A lot of states use this type of pie chart presentation, as it draws attention to the most impacted groups. But pie charts have a significant drawback.

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New, shareable graphics from the COVID Racial Data Tracker

This week, the COVID Tracking Project’s web design team launched a new feature that makes our demographic data more accessible to readers. It’s called Infection and Mortality by Race and Ethnicity: simply click on a state or territory, and the feature will return a chart that compares COVID-19 cases and deaths to that region’s population.

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Help advocate for better COVID-19 demographic data

A new form on the COVID Tracking Project website allows you to help advocate for better race and ethnicity data. Simply select your state, then use the contact information and suggested script to get in touch with your governor. States with specific data issues (such as Texas and West Virginia) have customized scripts explaining those problems.

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