BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts will start reporting race and ethnicity data as it releases daily updates on coronavirus cases in the state. Communities of color have been hit especially hard by COVID-19.

Health & Human Services Sec. Marylou Sudders said the state is working with labs, health care providers and local boards of health to gather the new data.

“I want to be clear, obtaining racial and ethnic data on cases of COVID-19 is crucial for examining where and on whom the burden of illness and death is falling. It’s important,” Sudders said. “It’s actually essential for the Commonwealth response to the pandemic and important information for all of us to understand.”

She cautioned that initial data will only reflect cases through April 5. Sudders said testing forms instructed testers to “please submit” race and ethnicity information, but now it is a requirement.

In the latest numbers released Wednesday, the race/ethnicity for a majority of coronavirus cases was classified as “unknown” or “missing.”

Lawmakers like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley have called for race-specific data on coronavirus cases.

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