Politics

Hospitals are now being ordered to report their COVID-19 data to a central database in Washington DC

PHOTO CREDITS: TIME MAGAZINE

Hospitals are now being ordered to report their data surrounding COVID-19 to a central database coordinated by the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington DC, instead of reporting such data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ~

This shift is mainly a result of the week-long “lag” being experienced by the CDC’s databases, according to Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael R. Caputo. “America requires [this information] in real time. The new, faster and complete data system is what our nation needs to defeat coronavirus,” Caputo said. This information will be used to inform decisions being made at the federal level in quicker fashion – such as allocations of personal protective gear and other resources and supplies. Hospitals began reporting their information to DHHS on July 15, following instructions posted on the organization’s website on July 10th. ~

Critics of this decision cite concerns over the politicization of science and health agencies. On July 14, an op-ed piece written by four former CDC directors was published in The Washington Post, which explained the potentially negative effects that politics could have on science. One of the major downfalls of the shift of information is the fact that the DHHS’s database will not be openly available to the public, mainly affecting reporters, researchers, and even health officials that need data to create models and execute crucial decisions regarding the virus. Jen Kates, the director of global health and HIV policy with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, explained that “Historically, the CDC has been the place where public health data has been sent, and this raises questions about… access for the public to try to better understand what is happening with the outbreak.” ~

President Barack Obama also received criticism for what some of his critics called “politicizing” federal agencies during his presidency. According to Forbes, in 2014, the Obama administration experienced back-lash for the so-called “IRS Scandal,” in which groups that disagreed with the Obama administration and the Democratic party were inadvertently targeted or punished by the IRS. ~

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