Birx says ‘revolutionary’ coronavirus data system underway, expects CDC to regain control

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may once again collect coronavirus-related hospital data, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said.

In mid-July, hospitals were instructed to bypass the CDC and send daily patient information directly to a central database operated by the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C.

However, speaking at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion earlier this week, Birx said a “revolutionary new data system” is underway so data collection can be moved back to the CDC, though she did not specify a timeframe.

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx speaks to reporters in the rotunda of the State Capitol in Lincoln, Neb., Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

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“We have an interim system, it is solely an interim, to get daily reports from hospitals of new admissions,” Birx said. “I think that has been critically important to support the states.”

Birx said the “interim system” helps the federal government send therapeutics like the antiviral remdesivir, and personal protective equipment like gloves, masks and gowns, to hospitals where they are needed most, which is often to smaller community hospitals apart from larger chains.

“We still have a ways to go to continue to improve on that system,” she added. “For the first time, every day I can see every new admission across the country, and that has been extraordinarily important.”

Upon the shift in July, Michael R. Caputo, a Health and Human Services spokesman, told the New York Times that “the new, faster and complete data system is what our nation needs to defeat the coronavirus, and the CDC, an operating division of HHS, will certainly participate in this streamlined all-of-government response. They will simply no longer control it.”

At the time, Caputo said “the CDC still has at least a week lag in reporting hospital data,” adding “America requires it in real time.”

Heavy criticism followed the re-route of data to the Trump administration, with four former CDC directors – who served during both Republican and Democratic administrations – accusing President Trump and top coronavirus task force officials of politicizing scientific data released by the national public health institute.

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.

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