The U.S. government is requiring the collection of additional demographic details from people tested for COVID-19, including their sex, age, race and ethnicity.
The extra data requirements apply to hospitals and laboratories and are intended to help track the virus’ impact on various racial, age and regional groups. Currently, only a small segment of public health labs report the age, sex and race of people who are tested.
The requirement comes amid growing concern about the pandemic’s impact on minorities, particularly African Americans. Federal health officials have previously reported that African Americans represent a disproportionate share of patients hospitalized for COVID-19.
The collection of zip code information is also expected to aid in tracking new infections and distributing tests and treatments.
The federal requirements take effect in August, though hospitals and labs are encouraged to comply as soon as possible. They must report the testing information within 24 hours, including the type of test used and whether results were positive or negative.