It’s a big change in the way certain COVID-19 statistics are being reported.
The nation’s hospitals have been directed to send certain data — including hospitalizations, intensive care unit bed availability and data on personal protective equipment — to the Department of Health and Human Services instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which had been receiving the information.
The move made by the Trump Administration is raising concerns of some health experts who believe that the hospital data will be politicized, but at the same time, some physicians said the system that was in place had flaws and could have been better.
Michael Caputo, the HHS secretary for public affairs, said the CDC had a one week lag in reporting hospital data. He said: “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 the streamlined all-of government response. They will simply no longer control it.”
News4Jax checked with UF Health to find out how it has been reporting coronavirus data to the federal government. A spokesperson said that hospitalization numbers are sent to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. COVID-19 test result data is sent to the Florida Department of Health.
The spokesperson added that any other pertinent data was sent to the CDC, but local hospitals are now sending the data to HHS through a portal.
A Jacksonville doctor, who spoke under the condition of anonymity because of political implications, said: “What we’ve done so far is not working. HHS handling the data may be a good thing, but we don’t have enough information as to whether it’s a good idea or not. The worry among doctors is this may be done in a way that is not transparent, and the politicization of the coronavirus is raising eyebrows. It’s not to say there’s not a potential for improvement.”
The new HHS database will not be available to the public, unlike the CDC’s data. Doctors said this could affect researchers, modelers and health officials, who relied on the CDC to make projections and decisions.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions like if the new database can handle the massive amounts of information, and how will this data integrate.