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HHS directs CDC to put Covid-related hospital data back on its website

The US Department of Health and Human Services changed course on Thursday on a controversial decision about hospital data, directing the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to re-post public hospital information onto its website.

HHS had told hospitals to stop reporting the data on coronavirus hospitalizations to CDC, saying the agency was posting the information too slowly. HHS, the parent department of CDC, said it would manage the information instead.

CDC took down some of the data from its website Wednesday evening.

On Thursday morning, HHS said it was directing the agency to put the data back up.

“HHS is committed to being transparent with the American public about the information it is collecting on the coronavirus. Therefore, HHS has directed CDC to re-establish the coronavirus dashboards it withdrew from the public on Wednesday,” Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs Michael Caputo said Thursday.

“Going forward, HHS and CDC will deliver more powerful insights on the coronavirus, powered by HHS Protect,” said Caputo. HHS Protect is the department’s coronavirus information center.

The White House has been asking hospitals to provide the coronavirus data on a daily basis since March.

The dashboard modules were restored Thursday. CDC has also added language to its website saying the data would not be updated past July 14.

The information was on the National Healthcare Safety Network Covid-19 module page and the CDC’s Covid-19 data tracker.

Public health experts had objected vociferously to HHS’s decision to bypass CDC.

“Given how political the response has been to date, it’s a step backwards to have these data going directly to HHS in Washington,” former CDC interim director Dr. Richard Besser told CNN.

“The disruption that they’re going to create, and confusion simply telling people to do something different in the middle of a disaster — that does not work,” American Public Health Association Executive Director Dr. Georges Benjamin told CNN.

“It’s like telling a soldier in the middle of a battle ‘we want you to fight differently than we trained you.’ Doesn’t work.”

The Infectious Diseases Society of America called the decision “troubling.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany later denied that HHS had ever planned to remove data from the CDC website.

“No one is taking access or data away from the CDC and that data is routinely published so that the American people are fully informed,” she told reporters Thursday. “The CDC database is the public data that’s been out there. It will continue to be public. It should be public.”

Article Topic Follows: Health

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