As racial and other demographic disparities among New Jersey residents with COVID-19 become more evident, Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway and Nancy Pinkin sponsor a bill that would mandate the reporting of demographic data by clinical laboratories. The Assembly Health Committee advanced the bill on Tuesday.
Under the bill (A-4253), labs would be required to report patients’ demographic information, including gender identity, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity. The lab would then have to provide that information to the New Jersey Department of Health when supplying mandated data, such as COVID-19 case information.
“This pandemic has highlighted disparities in the health outcomes of different communities,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “With the data we already have, we know African Americans and other minorities are experiencing more COVID-19 cases and worse outcomes, but we must continue to improve and expand on our data collection to help guide our decision-making.”
Despite making up only about 15 percent of the state’s population, African Americans currently comprise 18.5 percent of New Jersey’s COVID-19 deaths.
“Demographic data is critical to helping officials identify groups that are being significantly and disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “Understanding which communities are being hit the hardest by this illness and any other future outbreak we may encounter will help us get our most vulnerable residents the care and resources they need.”
Patients would not be required to disclose their demographic information if they do not wish to do so.
The bill will now head to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.