The Trump administration has ordered hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send all COVID-19 patient information to a central database in Washington starting Wednesday, according to a Health and Human Services document updated July 10.
Michael Caputo, HHS assistant secretary for public affairs, said in a state the new coronavirus data collection system would be "faster," adding that the CDC has a one-week lag in reporting hospital data.
"The President's Coronavirus Task Force has urged improvements for months, but they cannot keep up with this pandemic," he said. "Today, the CDC still provides data from only 85 percent of hospitals; the President's COVID response requires 100 percent to report."
Hospitals have been instructed to no longer report data to the National Healthcare Safety Network site, the CDC's tracking system that serves over 25,000 medical facilities in the country, according to the The New York Times.
HHS and NHSN have yet to respond to USA TODAY's requests for comment.
Public health experts and infectious disease scientists are sounding an alarm on the new protocols, noting that further politicization of this pandemic will hurt frontline workers and patients.
"Placing medical data collection outside of the leadership of public health experts could severely weaken the quality and availability of data, add an additional burden to already overwhelmed hospitals and add a new challenge to the U.S. pandemic response," Dr. Thomas File, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said in a statement.
He also said collecting and reporting public health data is a "core function of the CDC" and bypassing the agency would "undermine our nation's public health experts."
"As infectious diseases physicians, front-line providers and scientists, we urge the administration to follow public health expertise in addressing this public health crisis," File said.
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The news follows a Tuesday Washington Post op-ed written by four former CDC directors or acting directors criticizing President Donald Trump for "politicizing science."
"These repeated efforts to subvert sound public health guidelines introduce chaos and uncertainty while unnecessarily putting lives at risk," they wrote.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. has surpassed 3.4 million cases with over 136,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been 13.3 million cases and over 578,000 deaths.
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Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump HHS tells hospitals to send COVID-19 data to Washington, not CDC