The country's coronavirus response is taking "a step backwards" by rerouting hospital data on Covid-19 patients directly to the Trump administration instead of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to former CDC acting director Dr. Richard Besser.
"Given how political the response has been to date, it’s a step backwards to have these data going directly to HHS in Washington," Besser told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. "It's another example of CDC being sidelined. Not only should the data be coming to CDC, but CDC should be talking to the public through the media every day."
What this is about: The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the new policy to CNN on Tuesday. While CDC is a division of HHS, there has been tension between the CDC's Atlanta-based agency and those in Washington, Besser said.
"One of the nice things about CDC being in Atlanta — being away from Washington — is that we're able to avoid a lot of political pressure that you get in when you're in DC," he said. "What I worry with the data going directly to HHS is that it could be further politicized, and that’s the last thing you want."
Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the department, said in an earlier statement that "new faster and complete data system is what our nation needs to defeat the coronavirus and the CDC, an operating division of HHS, will certainly participate in this streamlined all-of-government response. They will simply no longer control it."
"These systems need to be modernized," Besser said, "but the answer to this isn’t bypassing CDC; it's working to ensure that the flow is going faster, making sure that they're getting the right data."