Senate and House Democrats despatched letters to the White House Friday, asking the Trump administration to reverse its determination to sidestep the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in amassing essential COVID-19 hospital information.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, hospitals within the U.S. have been offering day by day information on the variety of COVID-19 sufferers admitted, and the provision of hospital beds, ventilators, and private protecting tools. This week, the administration instructed hospitals to cease reporting this information on to the CDC. Now, they need to report the data to their state well being departments, or use a more recent portal, arrange by a non-public contractor known as TeleTracking. The portal bypasses the CDC and gives the info on to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the company.
Public well being consultants voiced worries that the transfer sidelines the CDC and hampers the company’s capacity to offer essential, day-by-day data on hospital assets to states within the midst of a pandemic. The new steering additionally ties the utilization of the newer portal with entry to the federal provide of remdesevir, one of many few medication confirmed to work towards COVID-19. Many hospitals have been notified on Monday of the change, which went into impact Wednesday, July 15, they usually scrambled to conform.
Senate Democrats sent a letter Friday to Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx, who run the White House Coronavirus Task Force, urging them to “withdraw your confusing and harmful changes to hospital reporting requirements” for COVID-19.
“These changes pose serious challenges to the nation’s response by increasing data management burden for hospitals, potentially delaying critical supply shipments, compromising access to key data for many states, and reducing transparency for the public,” states the letter, which was organized by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wa., rating member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and signed by 44 out of 45 Senate Democrats.
House Democrats additionally despatched a letter Friday to Alex Azar, HHS Secretary, objecting to the brand new hospital information reporting system and urging the Trump Administration “to rescind it immediately.” The letter describes the CDC as “the sole agency with the expertise and objectiveness to protect the integrity of this data and provide accurate analysis,” and raises considerations about transparency, accountability and public entry to the info collected by the TeleTracking portal.
The letter was organized by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wa., co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and was signed by 69 Democrats. No Republicans signed.
Senate Democrats gave an inventory of inquiries to the White House Coronavirus Task Force of their letter, together with a request for the general public well being rationale for transferring the info assortment and particulars on how the info might be analyzed and reported to the general public. The letter writers requested a response to their questions by July 31.
A hospital capacity dashboard maintained by the CDC and utilized by state epidemiologists for planning functions went darkish on Wednesday, when the brand new system launched. It was restored late Thursday afternoon, with information as much as July 14 — the final day the CDC collected this data. It’s unclear how the dashboard might be maintained going ahead.