The Trump administration recently changed the way data collected from hospitals during the COVID outbreak is managed by the government, amid growing concern with how the CDC has performed during the pandemic. The change was made in part because of its handling of the process.
Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the CDC has been at the center of controversy, first for its handling of testing, and now for inaccurate and duplicative data coming from the agency. These issues, including antiquated systems, and internal agency politics, have caused the Trump administration to shift the way the hospital data is being collected, moving it out of the hands of the CDC, and into the hands of Health and Human Services.
With many Americans growing more concerned about politicization of the pandemic, and legacy media consistently politicizing the virus, there is a strong effort from within the Trump Administration to fix the issues with data reporting, and work on advancing coronavirus response.
A senior administration official who spoke to UncoverDC expressed serious concern about politicization at the CDC, saying “We have scientists who are working against the release of diagnostics that will help heal the American people, and we in the administration are concerned they will do the same thing with a vaccine. CDC has been doing studies and presenting analysis that is designed to hurt the President. They are laying out junk science, that is designed to discredit the President, and they are putting out reports that are designed to frighten the American people. They are leaking, they are talking to the media, and removing data from the website and doing whatever it takes to interrupt the Presidents coronavirus response.”
When the pandemic began, the CDC was using an antiquated system to track infectious disease. The official we spoke to told this reporter that the CDC was hesitant to upgrade their systems, and when the Trump Administration made the decision to move data collection from the CDC to HHS, the CDC removed all hospitalization data from their website indiscriminately, and not at the direction of HHS or anyone else, as has been insinuated elsewhere. The official told us “CDC had all of the data and didn’t put it up, because they were mad. CDC has been ordered to continue providing the data; as an operating division of HHS, they must comply. Now, everyone is operating from the same database, it real time and complete.”
Addressing the issues with the data collection process from the start, UncoverDC was told “Before COVID struck, there was an outdated system that was monitoring infectious disease. This outdated system was still operating via fax in many cases. When COVID hit, the CDC resisted modernizing their database to provide COVID information that was necessary to save lives. When asked to improve their database they would give timelines in the weeks not in days. In the end, they were just unable to keep up with the pandemic.”
The official added “They were just too slow, and too unconcerned with improving. They were the anchor dragging behind.” When asked whether the serious issues encountered at the CDC are purposeful, the official stated “In many cases this is purposeful. There are people who hate Donald Trump more than they are committed to their duties as doctors and scientists.”
The senior official we spoke to was extremely concerned with the agenda of officials invested in politicizing the virus in advance of the election, and stressed that there would be work done to reconcile the data the CDC was providing, with the actual data received now by HHS “imminently”. The official also stressed that data from 100% of hospitals would be updated now daily, not weekly or with lag, and that this would finally allow for the administration to have a clear picture of the situation at hospitals across the country.
The data will still be available at the CDC website, and will not be held from the public, as some media outlets have alleged. Administration officials stressed that having such granular control over data is crucial to Coronavirus response, and the concern about politicization of the virus hampering response and leading to illness and in some cases, death, was extremely alarming.
This story will be updated with new information as it becomes available.
Tracy Beanz is the Founder and Editor in Chief at UncoverDC. You can follow her on Twitter @TracyBeanz