Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, told Boston Public Radio the organization is calling on the state to respond to recommendations put forth by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, and public health experts to collect data to make it possible to discern whether there are racial disparities in access to COVID-19 testing in communities.
“When we use the systems we’re going to need to build, and are trying to build, to track this,” said Rose, “we need to weigh that with inequities and transparency concerns.”
On April 2, the ACLU in Massachusetts and the Harvard Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation sent a letter to the state’s Department of Public Health requesting an “equitable response” to the coronavirus.
Early data revealed that disproportionate numbers of Black people are dying from COVID-19, according to the letter. For example, while Black people make up only 26 percent of the population of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, nearly half of all people who have tested positive for COVID-19 there are Black, and Black people represent over 80 percent of deaths, according to data from the ACLU.
“Those are the tensions, it’s a dialectic,” said Rose. “I think we’re going to see it through, but this is an opportunity for greater government transparency.”