The Trump administration just ordered that COVID-19 information bypass the CDC and be sent directly to the administration. This new order has been in effect only a few days and some of the previously public data has simply vanished from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
The data vanished after the Trump administration quietly shifted control of the information to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The CDC has regularly published data on the virus since the pandemic hit the United States. That data included data on the availability of hospital beds and intensive care units across the country.
Ryan Panchadsaram, who runs a data-tracking site called COVID Exit Strategy, says that when he went to the CDC website to retrieve data on Tuesday he found the data had vanished.
“We were surprised because the modules that we normally go to were empty. The data wasn’t available and not there,” Panchadsaram said. “There was no warning.”
Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, told reporters on Wednesday that all states were informed to stop sending hospital information to the National Healthcare Safety Network site, the CDC’s system for gathering data, beginning on Wednesday.
Now all data is reported through the HHS’s reporting portal.
HHS spokesman Michael Caputo said that the CDC was directed to make the data available again. In the future, he said, HHS will provide “more powerful insights.”
“Yes, HHS is committed to being transparent with the American public about the information it is collecting on the coronavirus,” he said. “Therefore, HHS has directed CDC to re-establish the coronavirus dashboards it withdrew from the public on Wednesday.”
On the CDC website, the page you usually find data on now offers a note that says, “Data displayed on this page was submitted directly to CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) and does not include data submitted to other entities contracted by or within the federal government.”
“We don’t have this critical indicator anymore,” Panchadsaram said. “The intent of just switching the data streams towards HHS, that’s fine. But you got to keep the data that you’re sharing publicly still available and up to date.”
Panchadsaram added that he and his team, have been tracking the data since April.
“It’s disappointing. It happened a lot quicker than expected,” he said. “The picture that we’re presenting to the world is incomplete.”