A new federal testing protocol calling for demographic information to be included with coronavirus tests is aimed at addressing racial and social disparities across the US, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Thursday.
Speaking with Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Democrat from Illinois, at the House Appropriations hearing on the Covid-19 response, Redfield said he is concerned about the impact of coronavirus among communities of color.
Bustos said communities of color often have limited access to certain resources, such as healthy foods, leading to higher risks of contracting Covid-19.
“There’s no question that the social determinants of health as pertained to access to quality food have enormous public health, health outcomes,” he said. “Fundamentally the key first step that we need to do to address the health disparities.”
The Health and Human Services Department released new guidance Thursday asking for testing sites to include demographic data like race, ethnicity, age, and sex. “I have every intent to get that data so we can begin to understand. Clearly, increasing access to knowledge of infection in vulnerable communities is critical to getting testing more available there,” Redfield said.
Responding to Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma, Redfield spoke out about the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on the Native American community and the resources that have been provided to them to try to help.
As well as financial support, these include a number of rapid response teams “to basically provide technical assistance because they have had some of the more significant outbreaks.”