The Trump administration has directed hospitals to send data on coronavirus patients to the Department of Health and Human Services instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, raising concerns about transparency as COVID-19 cases continue to spike nationwide.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that the change was announced last week in a document posted on the HHS website.
In a July 10 update to hospitals reporting COVID-19 information to the government, officials said that as of Wednesday, “hospitals should no longer report the Covid-19 information … to the National Healthcare Safety Network Site,” the CDC’s infection-tracking system for hospitals.
Michael Caputo, assistant secretary for public affairs for HHS, told NBC News that the new protocol will create a faster system for officials, noting that the CDC typically reports hospital data about one week late.
"The new faster and complete data system is what our nation needs to defeat the coronavirus and the CDC, an operating division of HHS, will certainly participate in this streamlined all-of-government response," Caputo said. "They will simply no longer control it."
The database created by HHS will not be open to the public, the Times reported, potentially impacting researchers and health officials who rely on CDC data to make their projections.
“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,” Dr. Thomas File, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said in a statement obtained by USA Today.
He added that bypassing the CDC would “undermine our nation’s public health experts” and urged the Trump administration to reconsider the move.
Caputo told the Times that the CDC will continue to make the information public.
© 2020 Cox Media Group