CDC’s failure to resist political takeover

This past week, two outlets published major investigations of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). The first story, by Science’s Charles Piller, focuses on White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and her role in the hospitalization data switch from the CDC to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The second story, by ProPublica’s James Bandler, Patricia Callahan, Sebastian Rotella, and Kristen Berg, provides a broader view of internal CDC dynamics and challenges since the start of the pandemic.

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I am once again asking: why are journalists doing this?

The COVID-19 At The White House Contact Tracker is attempting to trace over 200 contacts in connection with the President and his staff, after the President tested positive for COVID-19. The team behind it includes Benjy Renton, independent reporter on COVID-19 in higher education, Peter Walker, data visualization lead at the COVID Tracking Project, and Jesse O’Shea, MD, infectious disease expert at Emory University.

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HHS hospitalization data: more questions arise

Last Tuesday, the post on COVID-19 hospitalization data that I cowrote with Rebecca Glassman was published on the COVID Tracking Project’s blog. We pointed out significant discrepancies between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s counts of currently hospitalized COVID-19 patients and counts from state public health departments.

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HHS hospitalization data: still questionable

I, along with other COVID Tracking Project (CTP) volunteers, have been monitoring both hospitalization counts daily—the two counts being, HHS’s numbers and state-reported numbers compiled by CTP. Rebecca Glassman (data entry volunteer and resident Florida expert) and I have drafted a blog post for CTP about the biggest discrepancies we’ve seen, which will be published in the next few days.

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“Is Dr. Anthony Fauci on Cameo?”

Dr. Fauci is, of course, not on Cameo. But he did make a public appearance this past Friday: he testified before the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. This was Dr. Fauci’s first Congressional appearance in several weeks; Democrats have claimed that the White House blocked him from testifying earlier in the summer.

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Hospital capacity dataset gets a makeover

On July 14, the White House announced that hospitals across America would no longer report their COVID-19 patient numbers and supply needs to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Instead, they would report numbers through a data portal set up in April by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). A July 10 guidance issued by HHS requests that hospitals send reports on how many overall patients they have, how many COVID-19 patients they have, the status of those patients, and their needs for crucial supplies such as PPE and remdesivir.

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