How States Collect, Report, and Act on COVID-19 Race and Ethnicity Data
Updated March 16, 2021
The racial inequities exposed by COVID-19’s case and death rates can guide states as they target testing initiatives, vaccination distribution, and broader initiatives to address inequities in communities of color. These maps detail which states are reporting race and ethnicity in their case, mortality, testing and vaccination data, and the state action chart provides information on how states plan to focus on equity beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Read NASHP blogs, States Quickly Retool Strategies to Maximize Vaccination Coverage, States Identify and Address COVID-19 Vaccine Disparities through Targeted Rollout and Outreach, and States Prioritize Equity in their COVID-19 Responses and Beyond to learn more. For more information, contact Rebecca Cooper.
|Alaska||Alaska has made funding available for local communities to assist with COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts, with a focus on health equity to assist those disproportionately affected by the pandemic.|
|California||Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery has recommended that racial justice principles and a focus on equity become part of the economic reopening plan for the state.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released a health equity metric to fight COVID-19 and demonstrate targeted investments to reduce disparities in COVID-19 transmissions. The health equity metric has been used to assign risk levels and tier counties, and is used to assess reopening on a county-by-county level.
CDPH assembled a Health Equity Technical Assistance Team that will partner with key collaboratives and advocacy groups to develop best practices and resources for counties.
|Colorado||The Office of Health Equity created the COVID-19 Health Equity Response Team, which promotes transparency by publishing summaries of weekly team meetings. It also conducted a survey to inform the team’s actions.
For COVID-19 vaccination distribution, Colorado has created a Health Equity Line of Effort, with the purpose of bringing an equity lens to all components of distribution. The governor is working with his health deputies to launch pop-up clinics at churches and clinics in underserved areas to address equity in the vaccine distribution.
|Connecticut||Connecticut is partnering with Health Equity Solutions for a COVID-19 vaccination community outreach, to ensure the state provides education to communities that have been historically disproportionately impacted by the health care system.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s Governor’s Council for Women and Girls continues to push for equity in Connecticut and is supporting six proposed bills to work towards this goal. The council includes state agency representatives.
|Delaware||Delaware Public Health state officials are highlighting equity in their vaccine distribution plans, by establishing three federally qualified health centers across the state as vaccination sites and establishing other fixed community sites where individuals can get vaccinated.
Delaware is also using CARES Act funding to put 3,000 Delaware residents, half of whom are people of color, through a rapid retraining programs to re-enter the workforce.
|District of Columbia||Washington, DC’s Equity, Disparity Reduction and Vulnerable Populations Committee is part of its Reopen DC’s advisory group. The committee assembled a set of recommendations describing how to ensure equity during reopening.
The DC Council passed legislation launching a new office – the Council Office of Racial Equity (CORE). The office will work to ensure all new legislation will be evaluated for its impact on racial equity before passing.
CORE released a report in March 2021 examining racial equity in DC’s vaccination rates and practices.
|Florida||House Bill 183 (SB 404 companion bill) will require each county to dedicate a minority health liaison to ensure health equity across the entire state. The liaison will implement statewide policies related to health equity. The bill also requires the Florida Office of Minority Health and Health Equity to coordinate with the health liaison and county-level health departments to address disparities and identify areas of improvement.|
|Georgia||The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) created the DPH COVID-19 Health Equity Council. This group will help increase equity in COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration, public health programs statewide, and improve communication and outreach within Georgia’s most impacted communities by the pandemic. The immediate focus is vaccine awareness and education. The council will work in close partnership with 18 public health districts throughout the state to reach communities of color and other vulnerable populations with the goal of addressing COVID-19 vaccine related concerns.|
|Idaho||Gov. Brad Little established the Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee. The committee will advise the governor and assist state and local entities with prioritizing vaccines, implementing the vaccine plan, and delivery of the vaccine. Members of the committee are from across the state and include representation from priority populations, tribes, providers, and immunization organizations.|
|Illinois||The Illinois Department of Public Health created a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force involving other departments that will work to address health disparities.
The task force has launched a COVID-19 text messaging system (which includes an option for Spanish-speakers). Illinois residents can opt-in to receive text messages and obtain the most accurate information about coronavirus and how to protect themselves.
The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health selected Morehouse School of Medicine for a $40 million initiative to fight COVID-19 in racial and ethnic minority, rural and socially vulnerable communities.
In May 2020, the city of Chicago, in partnership with the city’s chief equity officer, created the Racial Equity Rapid Response Team (RERRT) to address the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on communities of color. The city experienced significant improvement in vaccine administration to communities of color by February 2021 as a result of the RERRT’s recommendations.
|Indiana||The legislative Racial Disparity Task Force on COVID-19 was created after the Legislative Black Caucus urged the governor to do so. The caucus’s letter to the governor included several other concrete suggestions for action. A report released in July 2020 included findings of the task force and recommendations for future action.
In Nov. 2020, Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed Kerrah A. Herring as Indiana’s first chief equity, inclusion, and opportunity officer. Herring’s job began Feb. 1, 2021 and will advise the governor on systemic change to remove hurdles in the government workplace to achieve equity.
|Kentucky||Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is partnering with the Kentucky NAACP, city government, and faith leaders to address vaccine hesitancy in underserved communities and to keep working to provide equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.|
|Louisiana||Gov. John Bel Edwards announced he is making $500,000 from the Governor’s COVID-19 Response Fund available to the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Taskforce to examine the causes and possible solutions to the high rate of deaths from COVID-19 within Louisiana’s African American community and other impacted populations. The task force has a set of short-term and intermediate goals to provide data-driven information, ensure testing is available for all communities, and provide the medical community with best practice guidelines. The task force plans to create a Health Equity dashboard to measure progress.|
|Maine||On July 30, Gov. Janet Mills announced that $1 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund would be dedicated to significantly and quickly expand services to help reduce the disproportionately large racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 in Maine. The funds were awarded to 24 community-based organizations in Maine in early September.
Gov. Mills moved $5 million of federal coronavirus relief funds for Maine housing to double the monthly allotted amount of rental relief as part of Maine’s COVID-19 Rental Relief program.
The Maine legislature passed LD 2, that requires racial impact statements for all Maine legislation. The bill will help evaluate legislation for impacts on historically disadvantaged racial or ethnic groups.
|Maryland||The Maryland Department of Health Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (MDHHD) compiled information on COVID-19 and its impact on minority communities.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh created a COVID-19 Access to Justice Task Force to develop strategies and solutions for Marylanders, disproportionately those in low-income areas and communities of color facing civil legal challenges due to COVID-19.
The Maryland Department of Health’s Minority Outreach and Technical Assistance Office revised criteria for its competitive funding to all nonprofits in Maryland. For FY 2021-2022, organizations in jurisdictions with 20,000 individuals of color or fewer were eligible to apply for $25,000 grants and organizations in jurisdictions with over 20,000 individuals of color were eligible to apply for up to $50,000.
|Massachusetts||Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill into law that requires the collection of vital public health data and establishes a COVID-19 Equity Task force.
The Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Health Equity Advisory Group released its recommendations that include:
Policies supported by the Massachusetts Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity can be found here.
The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office released a new report, Building Towards Racial Justice and Equity in Health: A Call to Action. The report highlights the disproportionate toll the pandemic has taken on communities of color and calls for action in key areas.
The Massachusetts Legislature has a Health Equity Task Force that makes recommendations to the legislature. Since August 2020, the task force has received weekly presentations from stakeholders engaged in health equity efforts. The task force is currently working on a final report.
Massachusetts is spending $1 million on a grant program to support vaccination efforts in historically underserved communities through the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. Health centers can apply for up to $25,000 to educate community members about the vaccine. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is being deployed to 20 cities and towns that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic to help reduce barriers to being vaccinated.
|Michigan||Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order that created the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. The task force will suggest ways to:
The task force helped distribute large quantities of masks to the public, launched efforts targeted to communities of color, and collaborated with regional racial disparity task forces and increased access to coronavirus testing in communities of color. The state has seen disparities decrease, possibly as a result of these actions. The task force will remain in effect until 90 days after the public health emergency ends.
The Racial Disparity Task Force released a report on Jan. 22, 2021 highlighting research and strategies with the goal to get 70% of Michiganders 16 and older by December 31, 2021.
The state made $20 million available to the task force to respond to community needs associated with the disparate impacts the virus has had on communities of color. Applications for funding through the Rapid Response Initiative closed in August 2020, with funds available for a wide range of needs. To date, 33 organizations received a total of $17.6 million dollars.
Gov. Whitmer also recently created the Black Leadership Advisory Council, bringing together black Michiganders to serve in an advisory capacity to the governor and recommend policies and actions to prevent and eradicate racial inequity in Michigan.
|Minnesota||Gov. Tim Walz established a community resilience and recovery work group to work with communities experiencing the worst disparities in COVID-19 outcomes. Items of business include policymaking, executive actions and executive orders, communication and outreach, and other processes for amplifying the voices in impacted communities.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) regularly updates its Health Equity and COVID-19 landing page, and holds regular conference calls with local public health community and faith leaders and other diverse communities across the state where officials share COVID-19 updates and answers questions and concerns from partners about their needs and issues and the barriers they face. MDH has also created multilingual COVID-19 resources and provides access to translators on its COVID-19 hotline. The MDH media strategy for providing information about COVID-19 includes contracts with diverse media partners who can better reach residents from communities of color, Native American residents, LGBTQ residents, and residents with limited English proficiency.
The University of Minnesota is launching a Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity through a gift from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. Rachel Hardeman, MPH, PhD, will lead the center.
In March, Gov. Walz announced a partnership between the state and the Minnesota Electronic Health Record Consortium to publish vaccination data on the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Data Dashboard. The dashboard “will inform additional, targeted strategies to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccine to Minnesotans of all races and ethnicities, including communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 as a result of systemic inequities.”
|Mississippi||The Mississippi State Department of Health created the COVID-19 Health Equity Response Unit.|
|Missouri||State Rep. Kimberly-Ann Collins introduced HR 27 to urge the governor “to encourage racial equity with an understanding of racism as a public health crisis.”
Gov. Michael Parson announced the creation of a COVID-19 vaccination dashboard. The dashboard shows the number of individuals who have received one or two doses and demographic information including age group, sex, race, and ethnicity.
|Montana||The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services created the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan Coordination Team. The 60-plus-member team has members from a broad range of organizations, including:
The coordination team will ensure that its partners and communities receive current information about the vaccine, provide training to providers, and make outreach to critical at-risk populations.
|Nebraska||Gov. Pete Ricketts tasked the Department of Health and Human Services to create a task force to examine racial and ethnic disparities around COVID-19. The task force will analyze data and create strategies to mitigate health disparities. It is comprised of 21 stakeholders from federally qualified health centers, health departments, advocates, community-based organizations, and other organizations that provide services to minority populations.
The governor’s initiative will include a partnership with Clark County Emergency Management and Southern Nevada Health District for equitable vaccine distribution.
|New Hampshire||Gov. Chris Sununu established the COVID-19 Equity Response Team. The group is charged with:
The Response Team released its initial Report and Recommendations in July, 2020, which includes recommendations across several topics including the following examples:
At a press conference in October, Governor Sununu announced that the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery is working with the COVID-19 Equity Response Team to ensure equal access to the new $100 million in “Main Street Relief Funds.”
|New Jersey||Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation that requires hospitals to report COVID-19 demographic data to the Department of Health. The state has improved their COVID-19 data tracking and has included cases by race/ethnicity on the state dashboard.
New Jersey Assembly members introduced a bill, A4004 to create a Pandemic Task Force on Racial and Health Disparities. The task force will improve existing data systems, evaluate access and quality of treatment for various racial and ethnic populations, and propose strategies to reduce health disparities.
|New Mexico||Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham created a Council for Racial Justice. The group is tasked with counseling the administration, monitoring state institutions, holding agencies accountable for taking action to end systemic racism, and ensuring that all individuals receive fair and equal treatment and opportunities. The council has subcommittees on health, public safety and law enforcement, and education.
In late February 2021, the New Mexico Department of Health announced a vaccine equity plan. The plan includes equitable allocation, distribution, and access, a communications plan, and effective community engagement, monitoring, and evaluation.
|New York||The New York City (NYC) Department of Health created the COVID-19 Organizing Response Plan (CORP). Key partners include:
The initiative seeks to expand to other NYC neighborhoods that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
|North Carolina||Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. The order:
Gov. Cooper followed that executive order with another that established a task force for addressing racial inequity in the state criminal justice system.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) also awarded grants to five local North Carolina organizations to help address the disparate impact that COVID-19 is having among the state’s Latinx communities. NCDHHS partnered with Livingston College, a Historically Black College, to execute a community-based program to help address food insecurity in vulnerable communities.
|Ohio||Gov. Mike DeWine created a Minority Health Strike Force and its official recommendations were released in June. The recommendations go beyond the scope of COVID-19 to address broader racial disparities. Examples include:
In response to the Strike Force’s recommendations, Gov. DeWine released a Plan of Action to Advance Equity. He previously had announced other activities that the state has undertaken to address disparities:
In November 2020, Gov. Mike DeWine appointed Jamie Carmichael as the Chief Health Opportunity Advisor. The position will support the findings of the Minority Health Strike Force.
|Oregon||Gov. Kate Brown released the State of Oregon Equity Framework in COVID-19 Response and Recovery. The core elements of the framework include a commitment to:
Gov. Kate Brown created the Racial Justice Council to address systemic racism. The council will have five subgroups – criminal justice reform and police accountability, health equity, economic opportunity, housing and homelessness, and environmental justice/natural resources. The council will provide recommendations for the 2021-2023 Governor’s budget. The council began meeting in December 2020 and Gov. Brown announced over $280 million in investments prioritized by the council in her 2021 State of the State address. This funding will support access to affordable childcare, expansion of behavioral health services to Oregonians regardless of immigration status, $20 million in housing initiatives, and economic justice.
|Pennsylvania||The governor and lieutenant governor established a COVID-19 Response Task Force for Health Disparity to help communicate and address issues about how the pandemic is affecting the state’s minority and vulnerable population. In August, the Task Force published its first policy recommendation report. The report includes six recommendations focused on policy topics related to health disparities, ranked in order of urgency: housing, criminal justice, food insecurity, health disparity, education and economic opportunities.
Office of Health Equity has a Covid-19 Health Equity Response Team with six core strategies:
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) released a Racial Equity Report at the beginning of 2021 that identified ongoing work and next steps in the areas of diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives, health equity, economic justice, early childhood education child welfare, and juvenile justice within the department and for individuals served by DHS.
|Rhode Island||The Executive Office of Health and Human Services’ Equity Council was created to advance and embed race equity into all areas within the state’s government, with a current focus on incorporating equity measures into the reopening plan. The Equity Council released a presentation of progress made as of September 2020 in key areas including:
|Tennessee||The Tennessee Department of Health and the Office of Minority Health created the COVID-19 Health Disparity Task Force. The group meets weekly.
The Tennessee Department of Health has created surveillance dashboards for special populations, including a COVID-19 pregnancy dashboard, a COVID Disparities Dashboard, and tracking COVID-19 cases in school-aged children.
|Texas||The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will study “COVID-19′s impact on vulnerable populations and will include data in many sectors including race, ethnicity, age, geographic location, socioeconomic status, chronic illness, a presence of a disability and employment status.”
Texas state senators are proposing bills to re-allocate funding for the Office of Minority Statistics and Engagement to understand the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color in Texas.
|Utah||The Utah COVID-19 Community Task Force created a multicultural subcommittee designed to prioritize racial equity. The subcommittee also oversees the COVID-19 Racial Equity and Inclusion Grant Fund. The fund provides grants up to $5,000 to community-based organizations that provide emergency assistance to multicultural communities. The state highlighted the Utah COVID-19 Community Response Fund created by a nonprofit, United Ways of Utah, to supports Utahns in several ways including providing rent and mortgage relief, rapid rehousing, crisis nurseries, and health care services for vulnerable residences.
In December 2020, Gov. Gary Herbert and racial equity leaders launched the Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The compact includes anti-racist principles and actions to create equal opportunity. Current Gov. Spencer Cox also signed the compact.
Gov. Cox’s One Utah Roadmap released in January 2021:
|Vermont||Gov. Phil Scott signed an executive order to form the Racial Equity Task Force as a component of a broader state effort to promote racial, ethnic, and cultural equity, including in its response to COVID-19. The Task Force will undertake three major projects including:
The task force released reports in September 2020 and January 2021. The first report outlined recommendations for housing, language access, public health, emergency response, broadband internet, employment law, and school discipline. The second report identifies structures to support racially diverse populations, current laws regarding hate speech, and makes recommendations to encourage Vermonters from diverse backgrounds to run for public office.
|Virginia||The Office of Health Equity created a Health Equity Leadership Task Force to address COVID-19. The Task Force is using a data-driven approach with a health equity lens to inform the COVID-19 command on at-risk populations and geographic areas of increased risk.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced a pilot program in Richmond to increase equitable access to personal protective equipment (PPE) in underserved communities that may be more adversely impacted by the virus. The task force is leveraging data to prioritize areas experiencing disproportionate impacts and working with the City of Richmond to establish policies and programs that include an equity lens.
Gov. Northam and Janice Underwood, PhD, Virginia’s Chief Diversity Officer released the One Virginia Plan, a strategic plan to “advance visible diversity, equity and inclusion across state government.” The plan includes supporting state agencies in understanding the role of systemic inequity, increasing diversity at all levels of government and promoting community engagement.
During the 2021 session, the Virginia General Assembly passed HB 1993 to require state agencies to develop diversity, equity and inclusion plans in coordination with the chief diversity officer. The Virginia General Assembly also passed HB 1990 to allow committee members to request racial and ethnic impact statements from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission for criminal justice legislation. Gov. Northam’s budget includes additional funding for historically black colleges and universities, Virginia State University and Norfolk State University.
|Washington||New proposed recommendations from the Gov. Jay Inslee’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities for discussion only include:
Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and response.
If approved, these lessons would supplant the current Office of Equity Task Force Preliminary Report (2019)
HB 1783 created the Office of Equity within Inslee’s administration. Gov. Inslee’s 2021 budget proposal includes $365 million for equity initiatives, including the Equity Office which will include eight staff members to “develop and implement a five-year equity plan for the state and assist agencies in developing their own diversity, equity and inclusion plans.” Other initiatives include establishing Juneteenth as a legal holiday, mandating independent investigations of police use-of force, funding the Immigrant Relief Fund, banning insurance decisions based on credit scores, and investments in communities of color.
|West Virginia||A task force focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on African American residents was established by the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) and Office of Minority Affairs. Gov. Jim Justice and the DHHR also announced a plan to increase COVID-19 testing opportunities for minority populations and other vulnerable populations in counties that have both a large minority population and evidence of COVID-19 transmission.
Since May, the task force has met weekly to review COVID-19 data on racial and ethnic disparities.
|Wisconsin||Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos created a task force to examine “racial disparities, educational opportunities, public safety, and police policies and standards.” The task force met in late October 2020.
Gov. Tony Evers appointed 30 nonprofit, tribal, religious, community organization, and governmental members to his Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion. He is also proposing legalizing marijuana and investing the $80 million in annual tax revenue into underserved communities and school districts through a Community Reinvestment Fund.
Support for this work was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation.
This analysis is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $200,000 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS or the US government. CDC General Terms and Conditions for Non-research Awards, Revised: February 2021