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White House calls for hospitals to send coronavirus patient data to Washington, not CDC

The Department of Heath and Human Services may soon collect the COVID-19 data

President Donald Trump speaks in Monroe, Louisiana, in November 2020.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Monroe Civic Center in Monroe, Louisiana, in November 2019.
Evan Vucci, Associated Press

President Donald Trump’s administration has called for hospitals to send all coronavirus patient data directly to a database in Washington, D.C., allowing them to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The New York Times reports.

The movie would begin Wednesday, July 15.

The instructions appeared in a HHS document on the department’s website. The HHS will collect data “about the patients that each hospital is treating, how many beds and ventilators are available, and other information vital to tracking the pandemic,” according to The New York Times.

Officials said the decision would help the White House coronavirus task force receive information about COVID-19, streamlining the process, according to The New York Times.

Experts expressed worry about the idea, though.

“Centralizing control of all data under the umbrella of an inherently political apparatus is dangerous and breeds distrust,” Nicole Lurie, who worked as assistant secretary for preparedness and response under former President Barack Obama, told The New York Times.. “It appears to cut off the ability of agencies like CDC to do its basic job.”

The database would reportedly collect information about COVID-19 patients in a database called HHS protect, which was created by Palantir, an analytics and data firm.

That company “is known most for its controversial contract work with the U.S. military and other clandestine government agencies as well as for being co-founded and initially funded by Trump ally Peter Thiel,” according to The Verge.

“A unique link will be sent to the hospital points of contact. This will direct the (point of care) to a hospital-specific secure form that can then be used to enter the necessary information. After completing the fields, click submit and confirm that the form has been successfully captured,” according to the HHS instructions. “A confirmation email will be sent to you from the HHS Protect System. This method replaces the emailing of individual spreadsheets previously requested.”

The Trump administration has reportedly asked governors to consider sending the National Guard to hospitals to improve the data collection, The Washington Post reports.

This idea was originally brought up in June.

“Given our track record of being cooperative to evolving data requests, it’s perplexing that the possibility of using the National Guard has been suggested,” Rick Pollack, president of the American Hospital Association, told The Washington Post. “It makes no sense. Certainly the expertise of the National Guard can be used in a more productive way.”