How CDC's COVID-19 tracking will change as PHE expires

Six days out from the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration, hospitalizations and deaths are down and the CDC has released details about what will change in its surveillance of the virus going forward. The major changes? Reporting cadence will shift, three surveillance reports will be discontinued and the agency will launch a redesigned data tracker.

The agency noted in a document shared with Becker's that after May 11, one of the primary metrics for monitoring COVID-19's continued impact across the population will be hospital admission levels and the percentage of COVID-19-associated deaths compared to all reported deaths. Vaccine safety, effectiveness and coverage will also continue to be a key metric. 

"The end of the PHE does not mean the end of CDC's emergency response to COVID-19," a spokesperson for the agency said in a previous interview with Becker's. "CDC is actively working with other federal government agencies and offices to maintain equitable access to vaccines, testing and therapeutics to the extent possible." 

Emergency department diagnosis of patients with COVID-19 and other indicators like national genomic surveillance, wastewater surveillance and traveler-based genomic surveillance will also continue to be tracked by the CDC to understand the virus' spread and changes over time. 

As for reporting cadence, the CDC stated "indicators will be displayed as weekly or otherwise scheduled updates to CDC's COVID Data Tracker." The data tracker is being redesigned and tailored to the updated methods of monitoring and data collection. It will launch May 11, the agency said.

While COVID-19 will continue to be a nationally notifiable disease, other aspects will stop including the reporting of negative COVID tests. 

Community transmission levels, which the CDC compiled from CELR data, will also stop as a result. 

In line with several states stopping some of their data collection efforts as well, the CDC will also no longer compile "national reporting of aggregate weekly counts of COVID-19 cases and associated deaths", which the agency was tracking via data from jurisdictional websites and dashboards and direct submissions.


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