State health department sets guidelines for COVID-19 tracking

More data on race, ethnicity

OW Staff Writer | 7/31/2020, midnight

To better understand the impact of COVID-19 on California’s diverse communities, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) took regulatory action this week, which goes into effect immediately, expanding data reporting requirements for providers and laboratories.

The regulations require providers to continue to collect and report race and ethnicity data and also collect and report a patient’s gender identity and sexual orientation, so the state has more information on patients who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). This week’s  action also requires labs to collect and report race and ethnicity data to the state.

“Complete data is essential to addressing health inequities and better designing public health interventions that save lives,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, state Public Health Officer and director of the California Department of Public Health. “These changes apply to COVID-19, and all reportable diseases, to help us understand their impact by race, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation.

While providers are currently required to report race and ethnicity data to the state, the information received is often incomplete. Race and ethnicity data are still missing from nearly 36 percent of cases in California.

In addition to expanding reporting requirements, the CDPLH action reminds providers that collecting and reporting this data is essential to California’s public health response. The regulations, effective immediately, apply to all reportable diseases in California, not just COVID-19, giving the state broader insight into racial and ethnic disparities and disparities among LGBT individuals.

California continues to evaluate additional steps it can take to improve the collection and reporting of data both from providers and laboratories. The regulations filed this week affect Title 17 of the CCR, sections 2500 and 2505.