Amid surging COVID-19 cases in the US, the White House told hospitals to stop sending case data to the CDC. Instead, hospitals should send all their data to the HHS. According to the New York Times report, the HHS database is also private. No one from the general public can access the data. This decision has also rung alarm bells for public health experts.
The CDC is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, HHS stands for the Department of Health and Public Health Services.
US Mishandling of COVID-19
Per the New York Times, Gizmodo reports that the White House issued the order on Tuesday. The CDC is the central government office handling all COVID-19 data. Nearly 25,000 hospitals report their data directly to the CDC. The CDC stores the data in its National Healthcare Safety Network website. It is publicly accessible.
With the surge of COVID-19 in the US, though, CDC processing is delayed. Thousands of cases flood nearly all testing companies in the US. Another Gizmodo report says that non-emergency COVID-19 testing could take “at least seven days.” And it’s not going to go shorter anytime soon.
— Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) July 15, 2020
In the report, medical testing firm Quest Diagnostics issued a warning. The US healthcare system is now “struggling with an uncontrolled pandemic.”
Safety measures for COVID-19 rely heavily on timely results. If you don’t get results on time, you may not be able to undergo self-quarantine. Failure to quarantine means infecting many people in two weeks. Those people will spread the virus to others. In that way, the disease can run unchecked.
What Does Bypassing the CDC Mean?
According to the New York Times, experts have stressed the need for a central unit to process COVID-19 data. Sharing numbers between offices can lead to a confused public. Another problem is that no head office oversees the new one. The new office could manipulate the numbers to mislead the public. They could also choose to withhold the real data from citizens.
Dr. Bala N. Hota told the Times that “the CDC is the right agency to be at the forefront” of data collection. Dr. Hota is the chief analytics officer of Rush University Medical Center, Chicago.
Likewise, Dr. Nicole Lurie warned against giving up control of the data to an “inherently political apparatus.” According to her, this move “is dangerous and breeds distrust.” Bypassing the CDC also hampers “its ability…to do its basic job.” Dr. Lurie is a former assistant secretary for preparedness and response to the Obama administration.
The State of the United States’ COVID Response
The United States is the world record holder of the most COVID-19 cases. It holds 3.36 million positive cases. Over 135,000 people have died. Florida, Texas, and California comprise one-fifth of the global tally. Florida has also set the new single-day record with 15,299 new cases. Hospitals across the US are crying for help. Many of them have reached capacity. They are also running out of ICU beds.