Typically Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compiles information regarding health crises such as coronavirus data before sending it to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the department then uses the data. Now, however, CDC will no longer hold the charge of coronavirus data.
HHS took to its website to post this order, it will now require hospitals dealing with the virus to send the data directly to the department including all daily reports regarding the total number of patients, hospital admissions, and deaths. They are also obligated to send data regarding the number of patients occupying ICU beds, ventilator usage, shortage of staff, and supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) among other listed data.
Previously however this was collected, filed, and shared by the CDC instead and such data was made available by it to public databases.
Michael R. Caputo is an HHS spokesperson; he believes that this change in the current data system will mean well for the country and the nation will thus defeat coronavirus successfully. He notes that though services of the CDC will be expected in the streamlined responses from the government, it will however now no longer withhold the power to control it.
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This news has, therefore, become a cause for concern among health experts. They fear such a change will reduce the amount of publicly available data. Such data that is also used by scientists and health officials during the heat of the pandemic, will become inaccessible and will greatly affect efforts against the virus.
A similar sentiment was upheld by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) a national organization of physicians, public health experts, and scientists. They wrote what they thought of the change in a statement penned by the organization’s president, Dr. Thomas File, Jr.
In the file it was expressed how placing medical data collection in the hands of those who were not public health experts could alter the quality and accessibility of important data. It would also put an immense burden on hospitals that are already struggling with their current responsibilities, instead of removing a challenge, such a move has added another during a grave health crisis.
Dr. Dan Hanfling is an expert in disaster and medical preparedness, he is also the vice president at In-Q-Tel which is a non-profit investment firm with national security as its prime focus. He believes that the whole system needs to be finished and started fresh. The HHS could maintain an electronic system to quickly gather data from hospitals instead of the tedious process of manually gathered data, says the agency.
Hanfling retorted that he found it ridiculous that an administration could not use modern-day technologies of this century in data management to fight this pandemic.
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An IDSA statement says HHS should not switch to a new database but should instead fund and support CDC to collect and report coronavirus data based on ethnicity and race, hospital and ICU capacity, positive tests, deaths, and hospitalizations.
The new decision has, therefore, brought health experts to the table for debate to defend the value of CDC in the nation’s fight against the pandemic. The common ground among most experts appears to be that they would rather improve the role of the CDC then take it out of the process entirely as the new system suggests.