The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told Congress on Friday that he was not directly involved in the Trump administration’s decision to oblige hospitals to stop sending COVID-19 data directly to the agency.
Earlier this month, the administration ordered hospitals to report hospitalizations and test data to a new health and human services database maintained by a private contractor, bypassing the CDC.
“We were not directly involved in the final decision, but I can say this: the CDC has access to all data then and now, performs full data analysis, so no data is restricted,” Director Robert Redfield told the House Select subcommittee on coronavirus response.
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Invited from a reply by Maxine Waters (D-California), Redfield said he was notified of the change after a decision was made by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the CDC’s main agency.
He also said he did not discuss the decision with HHS Secretary Alex Azar or Vice President Pence, who led the administration’s response to COVID-19.
Redfield said the goal of the change was to improve access to real-time hospitalization data so that the administration could better know where to send Remdesivir, a drug that has been shown to treat COVID-19.
“I think the reason for the change was to ensure that individuals have timely access to Remdesivir,” Redfield said.
Some public health professionals have criticized the change because they are concerned that the CDC administration is responding to the coronavirus virus.