Nearly three dozen past and present members of a federal healthcare advisory committee are complaining about the retiring of an old system for reporting COVID-19 information at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in favor of a centralized database at the Department of Health and Human Services.
A letter, obtained by The New York Times, signed by 34 former and current members of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee – which advises the CDC and HHS – said the new system has been "scrambling to determine how to meet daily reporting requirements."
The signatories criticized the timing of the change, saying HHS alerted to the change on July 10 and retired the old system National Healthcare Safety Network COVID-19 module five days later.
“We are extremely concerned about this abrupt change in COVID-19 reporting,” the letter said. “Retiring NHSN’s COVID-19 surveillance system will have serious consequences on data integrity.”
HHS officials said the old system was unwieldy and outdated and implemented the new system to be more comprehensive and transparent.
White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx during a May meeting blasted the data reporting, reportedly telling CDC Director Robert Redfield "There is nothing from the CDC that I can trust."
The COVID data reporting includes information about current patients, the number of available beds and ventilators and other information tracking the outbreak.
The signatories complained that because the data collected was not exactly the same as previously, it made it difficult to compare the data collected under the new system with that gathered under the older method.
HHS spokesman Michael Caputo told The Times that old system “was unable to keep up with the fast-paced data collection demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
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