CDC director: We weren't involved in HHS' decision to change COVID-19 reporting protocol for hospitals

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CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, on July 31 told Congress that he was not directly involved with HHS' decision requiring hospitals to stop reporting COVID-19 data directly to the agency, The Hill reports.

"We weren't directly involved in the final decision but what I can say is this: CDC then and now continues to have access to all data, does all the data analytics, so there's no restriction of any of the data," Dr. Redfield told a House subcommittee.

HHS altered its reporting guidance for hospitals on July 10, directing hospitals to send data through the state or state contractor, which then reports data directly to HHS. Previously, hospitals reported COVID-19 data on a daily basis to the CDC through its data system, National Health Safety Network.

In a July 15 press briefing with HHS CIO Jose Arietta, Dr. Redfield said that HHS developed its new reporting system, HHS Protect, in April and at the time had accepted information funneled from NHSN directly to the project from states or sent through the HHS system, which is managed by TeleTracking Technologies. Dr. Redfield had said that the move would streamline data flow so all hospital information goes directly to one spot.

"Streamlining reporting enables us to distribute scarce resources using the best possible data," Dr. Redfield said during the July 15 briefing. "TeleTracking also provides rapid ways to update the type of data we are collecting, such as adding, for instance, input fields on what kind of treatments are being used. In order to meet this need for flexible data gathering, CDC agreed that we needed to remove NHSN from the collection process."

At the July 31 hearing, however, Dr. Redfield said he was informed of the reporting protocol change after HHS made the decision and that he did not discuss the decision with HHS Secretary Alex Azar or Vice President Mike Pence. Dr. Redfield told the committee the purpose behind the reporting shift was to improve access to real-time hospitalization data so the Trump administration could better manage sending the drug remdesivir to hospitals.


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