Hospital data on coronavirus patients will now be rerouted to the Trump administration instead of first being sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday.
The move could make data less transparent to the public at a time when the administration is downplaying the spread of the pandemic, and threatens to undermine public confidence that medical data is being presented free of political interference, reports the CNN.
Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the department, confirmed the change first reported by The New York Times earlier in the day, saying in a statement that 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. They will simply no longer control it."
"The CDC's old hospital data gathering operation once worked well monitoring hospital information across the country, but it's an inadequate system today," Caputo said in the statement.
The Times said hospitals are to begin reporting the data to HHS today, noting also that the "database that will receive new information is not open to the public, which could affect the work of scores of researchers, modelers and health officials who rely on CDC data to make projections and crucial decisions."