Good News, Bad News


Joe Friday – Just the facts, ma’am

UPDATED 9:40 p.m.: Good news! The administration has reversed its order to deport international students if their U.S. universities go all-online for fall semester. That’s good news for the students, good news for the universities, and good news for all of us. I wrote last week about the utter stupidity of the order, which would have deprived universities and communities where they are located of more than $50 billion in spending by international students. The Trump administration agreed to rescind this idiotic orderafter hundreds of universities and many states (including Minnesota) sued to have it overturned.

Bad news: The Trump administration, in another move in its continuing war on science, ordered hospitals to stop sending information on coronavirus infections to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Instead, they ordered that the data be sent to the highly politicized Department of Health and Human Services. And, just in case you think that’s not bad enough, the White House said it will cut off supplies of needed Personal Protective Equipment and drugs to hospitals unless they comply.

The CDC makes information publicly available. The New York Times reports that will not be true any longer:

But the Health and Human Services database that will receive new information is not open to the public, which could affect the work of scores of researchers, modelers and health officials who rely on C.D.C. data to make projections and crucial decisions.

“’Historically, C.D.C. has been the place where public health data has been sent, and this raises questions about not just access for researchers but access for reporters, access for the public to try to better understand what is happening with the outbreak,’ said Jen Kates, the director of global health and H.I.V. policy with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.”

The CDC has been criticized for its data collection, but the solution is to fix problems, not to forbid reporting. The Trumpian solution, however, is privatization. The HHS database will be run by a private company, TeleTracking.

“Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, has raised questions about the TeleTracking contract, calling it a ‘noncompetitive, multimillion-dollar contract’ for a ‘duplicative health data system.’”

UPDATE: A friend on FB asked:

“Do you know if hospitals are actually *forbidden* to send data to the CDC? Would it be possible for them to send to both CDC and HHS? None of the reporting I’ve seen is explicit about this.”


From the text of the HHS memo:“Hospitals and acute/post-acute medical facilities should report daily capacity and utilization data through only one of the methods below, to the Federal Government. …As of July 15,, 2020, hospitals should no longer report the Covid-19 information in this document to the National Healthcare Safety Network site. Please select one of the above methods to use instead.” [Emphasis in the original]

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