Hospitals have been told to redirect Covid 19-related data to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a change the government says will improve tracking but others fear could obscure how the pandemic is evolving.
“It became clear we needed a central way to make data available,”
Given the broad range of elements that are collected, Arrieta said it’s impossible to manipulate the data.
The CDC was the one to propose the idea of changing how the information was gathered, CDC Director
The shift was announced in updated guidance posted on the HHS website late last week. Hospitals were told that as of Wednesday, they should stop sending statistics such as intensive-care capacity and bed utilization to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network and route them to the HHS database instead.
The Trump administration said the move is meant to make it easier for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to respond to the pandemic.
“The CDC’s old data-gathering operation once worked well monitoring hospital information across the country, but it’s an inadequate system today,” Michael Caputo, assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, said in a statement. The change was first reported by the New York Times.
Some groups outside the government are concern that the change could make it harder for the public to find reliable information on what’s happening. One coronavirus tracking site, covidexitstrategy.org, lost access to data from the CDC on ICUs and beds, according to a statement on its website Wednesday.
“Our hope is this loss of critical public health information is temporary,” the site posted. “HHS is instituting a new process for collecting information from hospitals. The aggregate data from that system should be made public.”
“Placing medical data collection outside of the leadership of public health experts could severely weaken the quality and availability of data, add an additional burden to already overwhelmed hospitals and add a new challenge to the U.S. pandemic response,” IDSA President
(Updates with material from press call. An earlier version corrected the attribution of CDC suggesting change.)
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