Massachusetts released its first data on the demographics of conronavirus infections in the state, but acknowledged that the information is so incomplete that it allows for no conclusions.
The data released by the state Department of Public Health showed that the state could not identify the race or ethnicity of the patient in 67 percent of the nearly 17,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and in 69 percent of the 433 confirmed deaths.
At a press conference on Wednesday with Gov. Charlie Baker, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said the Department of Public Health is working with private labs, hospitals and other organizations conducting tests for coronavirus to improve the data reporting on race and ethnicity.
"The data on race and ethnicity is far too incomplete in far too many cases," she said. "We are taking steps to improve the submission of these key data points. We are issuing an order today requiring that those data fields [on race and ethnicity] are to be completed so that we can begin publicly reporting on these measures as we do on virtually every other public health condition."
The limited state data shows 98 deaths among non-Hispanic whites; 14 deaths among Hispanics; 7 deaths among African Americans; and 6 deaths among Asians as of April 8.
Sudders said that in many cases, individuals may have refused to provide that information or the originating test system did not capture and report race or ethnicity.
Marty Martinez, Boston's chief of health and human services, said on Tuesday the city has race and ethnicity data for about half of the roughly 2,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases among city residents.
"That data is not complete, but what we do know, and it shouldn't be surprising, is that health disparities exist," Martinez said. "Whenever we're looking at a public health issue, we see disparities."
State House News Service contributed reporting for this story.