What happened: The Trump administration mandated that hospitals bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and send critical data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, availability of intensive care beds, and personal protective equipment to a private third party (TeleTracking) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This change caused the CDC’s website with these data to disappear and then, due to public outcry, the CDC’s website was partially restored but only with outdated information. HHS’ new system has been heavily criticized by data scientists and public health experts since the database is not as consistently updated, not as thoroughly checked for accuracy, and not nearly as complete as compared to the CDC’s previous management of the data.
Why it matters: During a pandemic, the Trump administration wrestled away the collection, analysis, and management of COVID-19 data away from the CDC, an agency with some of most respected infectious disease experts in the world, experts who have decades of knowledge in handling hospitalization data. This action – which led to widespread confusion and mayhem for hospital staff, COVID-19 researchers, and agency staff – demonstrates a massive failure by the Trump administration to respond to the pandemic using the best available scientific methods at their disposal. The Trump administration has therefore hampered our ability to track and monitor if hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed during the COVID-19 era, a chilling thought for every single person living in the US who rely on hospitals to save our very lives.
Learn more about how the White House hid and redirected important hospitalization data away from the CDC.