The Trump administration last week sent a little FAQ to hospitals around the country to remind them of all their daily data-reporting requirements, to keep the federal government up to date on what's happening with the COVID-19 pandemic. Stuff like the number of patients each hospital is treating, available beds and ventilators, all the data that's used to keep track of the disease.

Buried on page 10 of the document was a notice that, starting now, hospitals should no longer send such data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Instead, all the information should go directly to a database set up by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington. Why? The FAQ doesn't say, even though the CDC's reporting system, the National Healthcare Safety Network, is the nation's standard system for tracking infections for years, and gathers data from more than 25,000 medical centers in the US.

The New York Times, which broke the story yesterday, says the switch "has alarmed health experts who fear the data will be politicized or withheld from the public," which just goes to show how paranoid the "experts" are. Donald Trump has the best people running things, and he wouldn't let a bunch of haters and enemies get away with making him look bad. That's the only reason you need to know, please go about your business.


To reassure Americans that nothing funny is up, officials told the Times the move was made simply to make things more efficient, don't you see, insisting it would

streamline data gathering and assist the White House coronavirus task force in allocating scarce supplies like personal protective gear and remdesivir, the first drug shown to be effective against the virus. 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.

Maybe the "public" ought to be a little less nosy, if it knows what's good for it. As should scientists, who if they're smart won't want to be associated with the potentially disloyal Deep State career officials at the CDC.

Jen Kates, director of global health and HIV policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, doesn't seem to recognize what a great move this is, possibly because her own loyalties are suspect. She told the Times,

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. [...]

How will the data be protected? [...] Will there be transparency, will there be access, and what is the role of the C.D.C. in understanding the data?

It's not your data, lady. It's Jared's, OK? And you should let the people who run things make the decisions that a minority of the American People "elected" them to make.

Just to indicate what a wise decision the new scheme is, the Times notes that two anonymous officials said the change was a complete shock at the CDC, which tells you the administration caught those so-called "experts" with their pants down. High fives all around, and burn your masks!

HHS spokesflack Michael Caputo, a Roger Stone protégé and longtime GOP operative who has no experience in medicine at all, no doubt smiled sincerely as he explained to the Times that the CDC's system was inadequate, but that it would be connected to the HHS database and don't you worry your pretty little heads, dear, information will still be made public. Pulling an end run on the CDC was absolutely vital, he said:

"Today, the C.D.C. still has at least a week lag in reporting hospital data," Mr. Caputo said. "America requires it in real time. The new, faster and complete data system is what our nation needs to defeat the coronavirus, and the C.D.C., an operating division of H.H.S., will certainly participate in this streamlined all-of-government response. They will simply no longer control it."

CDC will learn to submit, yes it will. This is much bigger than some trifling agency the American People don't even care about, because the American People care about winning. Too much of the CDC's work isn't helpful with winning, like its stupid guidelines for schools that put "safety" ahead of getting public schools open quickly and at minimal cost.

Besides, it should be super easy to get every hospital in the country to switch, in the middle of the week, to sending their data to an entirely new system. If there's one thing this administration is known for, it's flawless transitions from normal ways of doing things to an entirely new system announced with just a few days' notice.

Nicole Lurie, a Deep State enemy of the American People who in the Obama administration served as "assistant secretary for preparedness and response" (as if plans even matter!), told the Times the move could breed distrust of public health officials, as if that weren't the true mission of all parts of Trump's coronavirus "response."

Centralizing control of all data under the umbrella of an inherently political apparatus is dangerous and breeds distrust. [...] It appears to cut off the ability of agencies like C.D.C. to do its basic job.

Not to worry! Dr. Janis Orlowski, chief health care officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges and a member of the working group of government and hospital officials that developed the new reporting procedures, said there's nothing to worry about, so stop worrying:

While she said she understood Dr. Lurie's concern, Dr. Orlowski said the administration had pledged in "a verbal discussion" to make the data public — or at least give hospitals access to it.

"We are comfortable with that as long as they continue to work with us, as long as they continue to make the information public, and as long as we're able to continue to advise them and look at the data," she said, calling the switch "a sincere effort to streamline and improve data collection.''

See? Hardly any conditions at all there, and certainly no suggestion that the CDC has a nice little data-gathering operation and it would be a real shame if something happened to it. The administration gave a verbal assurance that the data would be public, or at least semi-public, for the right people who cooperate and know their place. What's to worry about?

The Times story does note there have been valid criticisms of the CDC's data operations, but also points out that even people who have critiqued it want it fixed, not moved into an agency that's been largely politicized under Trump. Even before the Times story broke, four former directors of the CDC published an op-ed in the Washington Post condemning the increasing political pressure on the CDC, especially the administration's call for the agency to loosen its guidelines for school reopening.

Sounds like there are a LOT of people who need to learn that science, medicine, and "public health" have little value in the real world, where the far greater good is the glorious project of re-electing Donald Trump.

[NYT / HHS Memo / WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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