The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed on July 14 that hospital data on COVID-19 cases will be rerouted to the Trump administration instead of being sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The move decided by the Trump administration could make the data less transparent to the public. This is also deemed dangerous because the administration is also known to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic.
The assistant secretary for public affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services, Michael Caputo, confirmed the sudden changes that were first reported by The New York Times. He said in a statement that the new complete and faster data system is what the United States needs in order to defeat the pandemic.
Caputo added that the CDC will participate in the streamlined all-of-government response and that the CDC will no longer control it, as reported by CNN.
According to The New York Times, hospitals are no longer reporting the COVID-19 data to the CDC, but instead, they are rerouting it to HHS. They noted that the database will get new information that is not open to the public and it could affect the work of those in public health services such as modelers and researchers who rely on the data given by CDC.
The data helps them make decisions and projections. Dr. Richard Besser, former CDC acting director, said on July 15 that rerouting hospital data is a step backward for America's coronavirus response. He said that he is worried that the data going directly to HHS could be politicized.
Besser agreed with Caputo and said that systems needed to be modernized. He also said that the answer is not bypassing CDC, but working to ensure that the flow is going faster, making sure that they are getting the correct data.
Trump administration's response
The Trump administration still refused to be transparent with the pandemic, which has already claimed the lives of 137,000 Americans since March.
On July 14, four former CDC directors called out the administration for politicizing the pandemic and disregarding the guidelines given by the CDC. The directors blasted the administration in a scathing Washington Post article.
The former officials warned the public against the indictment of the efforts of the CDC as President Donald Trump and the rest of his cabinet are pushing for the reopening of schools in the US.
President Trump has stated that he will pressure the governors to reopen schools despite documents from the CDC warning that reopening the schools and universities would be the highest risk for the spread of the virus.
The former officials stated that they find it unfortunate that science and concrete evidence about the pandemic is being challenged and are being politicized. They added that the response of the administration is creating confusion and mistrust in the public, just when the people need clarity, expertise, and leadership.
The pandemic being politicized has resulted in anti-mask rallies and the harassment of public servants. Public servants are also threatened and forced to resign from their posts, just when they are needed the most.
The public health expert said that America is facing two opponents, the coronavirus pandemic and the political leaders that are trying to undermine the pandemic.