Shelby County to release COVID-19 racial data by Friday

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Many areas across the country have released racial data that show the virus has disproportionately impacted patients who are black or African American.

The website for North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services has case data categorized by multiple factors including race.

But the Tennessee Department of Health’s website does not have any racial statistics. Neither does the Shelby County Health Department’s.

“Unfortunately much of our race data has been missing for a variety of reasons,” said Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter.

According to Haushalter, the Centers for Disease Control form, which providers have to fill out for every COVID-19, does not collect racial information. She said they don’t consider it a risk factor. So it’s up to states and municipalities to do it themselves.

The Shelby County Health Department is doing that now, but it’s unclear when they started.

“As we’re completing the contact investigations we are gathering race,” Haushalter said.

That said, the data from other areas shows ominous numbers. In Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, of 51 people who’ve died, 36, or 70 percent, were black or African American.

In Memphis, Rev. Earle Fisher said more widespread testing will help.

“…in communities that usually suffer disproportionately from immune deficiencies related to sickle cell, lupus, other issues that we find are disproportionately prevalent in the African-American community,” Fisher said.

Officials say racial data should be available by the end of this week for both Shelby County and Tennessee.

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