Many COVID-19 contact tracers aren't reporting in real time

The CDC and several local public health agencies are using fax machines and paper records to track COVID-19 infections and share information with other departments, rather than tapping tech systems that support real-time data reporting, according to Politico

Congress approved more than $500 million for health data initiatives in last month's relief package, but COVID-19 disease trackers said they are still using paper reports for contact tracing. 

"Public health departments are unable to share data on cases, persons under investigation, laboratory tests and person-to-person transmission with the CDC seamlessly. Instead they are forced to rely on a combination of methods: antiquated pen and paper, faxes, Excel spreadsheets, phone calls, and manual entry,” a group of nine senators led by Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., wrote in an April 28 letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. 

Without an established electronic data exchange, public health officials must track down patients' family histories and medical conditions from healthcare providers to try and determine how sick patients are and how quickly COVID-19 has spread, according to the report. 

CDC will release spending plans and plans to announce a first wave of grants to support local health agencies, according to the report. 

"Virtually every health department's affected by this, in some fashion," Chesley Richards, the CDC's deputy director for public health science and surveillance, told the publication. 

More articles on data analytics: 
New York City teams up with Salesforce on COVID-19 contact tracing program
Why states are having issues managing COVID-19 testing data
Pew to Congress: Patient matching flaws will disrupt COVID-19 contact tracing, vaccine distribution

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