The Trump administration is changing how hospitals are required to send COVID-19 case data to the government, bypassing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in favor of the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a report in The New York Times.
Beginning Wednesday, the numbers of available beds in intensive care units, patients on ventilators, stockpiles of personal protective equipment and many other data points will be collected daily by a department more closely aligned with the White House.
The change was detailed in a document posted this week on the HHS website, which claims that it helps streamline the reporting process, unburdening hospitals from having to report data to multiple government agencies.
But it also reinforces fears that President Donald Trump is actively trying to undermine scientists at a critical juncture in the health crisis ― when coronavirus cases are skyrocketing across many states. On Monday, Trump began publicly attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert in infectious disease, while the White House was accused of launching a whisper campaign against him.
Four former directors of the CDC expressed similar concerns in a Washington Post opinion piece published Tuesday, arguing that experts at the CDC were being undermined by politicians in a way that may prove devastating to public health.
The change in reporting standards came out of a “tense” conference call between hospital administrators and Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, who then convened a separate group to find a solution.
Two unnamed officials told the Times, however, that the change that group came up with has shocked and dismayed the CDC.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.