Coronavirus data has already disappeared after the Trump administration transferred control of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Coronavirus data has already disappeared after the Trump administration transferred control of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Public data previously had already disappeared from the CDC website, after the Trump administration quietly transferred control of information to the Ministry of Health and Human Services.

Since the epidemic began, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has regularly published data on the availability of hospital beds and intensive care units across the country. But Ryan Panchadsaram, who helps run a data-tracking site called Covid Exit Strategy, said that when he tried to collect data from the CDC on Tuesday, he had disappeared.

We were surprised because the units we usually go to were empty. He said that the data was not available, and there was no warning.

CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield told reporters in a conference call on Wednesday that states have been told to stop sending hospital information to the National Health Care Safety Network site, the CDC's data collection system, starting on Wednesday. Instead, all data will now be reported through the HHS Reporting Portal, the officials said, adding that the decision was made to simplify data reporting and to provide HHS officials with the data in real time.

Public health professionals and former health officials have acknowledged that the infrastructure for reporting data for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is limited, and said it needs comprehensive reform to meet the requirements of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, they expressed concern in CNBC interviews that the change could lead to less transparent data.

Michael Kabuto, a spokesman for HHS, said in a statement that the CDC was directed to make the data available again for comment on Thursday by CNBC. In the future, he said, HHS will provide "more powerful insights."

He said: "Yes, HHS is committed to being transparent with the American public about the information it collects about coronavirus." “Therefore, I have directed HHS CDC to recreate the coronary dashboard panels that were pulled from the public on Wednesday.”

CDC representatives did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. Later in the day, the CDC restored previous information panels to the site until Tuesday, saying: "This file will not be updated after July 14, 2020 and includes data from April 1 to July 14."

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added to obtain data about the hospital beds and the available intensive care unit, a note stating: "The data displayed on this page has been submitted directly to the National Health Care Safety Network (NHSN) of the CDC and does not include the data Provided to other entities that have been contracted with or within the federal government. ”

"We no longer have this crucial indicator," said Panchadsaram. "The intention is to just convert the data flows to HHS, that's fine. But you have to keep the data that you share in general is still available and up to date."

Panchadsaram said he and his team, which includes researchers from the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and Resolve to Save Lives, a public health initiative led by former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden, have been tracking data since April.

Panchadsaram believes that the project is something of a "progress bar" as they classify the various states on their overall progress in fighting Covid-19. He added that the available hospital beds and the capacity of the intensive care unit are a key indicator they use to assess the country's performance.

"It is disappointing. It happened faster than expected," he said. "The image we present to the world is incomplete."

Other coronavirus researchers and public health professionals have expressed concern that the policy change has been announced suddenly in the midst of a public health crisis that appears to be worsening.

Dr. Jennifer Nozo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, who runs one of the most popular third-party coronation datasheets, said that policy change would not affect the Hopkins website because they had access to their data directly from states. She added, however, that policy change raises questions about data transparency and the role of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the ongoing US response.

"What worries me is that we seem to be suddenly pushing somewhat in the midst of what appears to be a very urgent time in terms of the increasing cases we are seeing across the country," she told CNBC. "The question is, what are we going to lose in this transformation, especially at a moment when we really don't want to lose any capacity to understand what is happening in hospitals."

Nuzzo expressed concern that the administration did not seem to fully plan how the shift in reporting data and did not provide hospitals or researchers with a warning about the change or how it might affect them.

"I think it makes sense to worry that it might lead to capacity erosion at a time when we cannot lose any capabilities at this point," she added. "I don't quite understand how it will work. This in itself is problematic."

Dr. Jane Keats, senior vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, echoed Nuzzo's concerns about how quickly the decision has become a policy. She added that the Trump administration politicized the public health crisis for months, so policy change raises concerns about data integrity as well.

She said: "It was an important source of information for everyone, for countries, for researchers, for journalists, for the public to try to understand what was happening." "The last thing you want is for the data to be politicized. It only raises this concern. Will the data in HHS lead to more politicized use of it, or maybe not. But again, the concern has been raised."

President Donald Trump and his administration have been criticized during the pandemic of critics who say the White House is undermining public health professionals in the country. Last week, Trump criticized the CDC's guidelines for re-opening schools as difficult and very expensive, and Vice President Mike Pence said the agency would make additional recommendations.

"There were concerns raised when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had the opportunity to offer its advice as a public health agency, really based on evidence and data, and there are many examples where we were not clear that this was the case," Keats said. . "I think this is a source of concern for many; is there any political significance for this change?"

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