July 20, 2020 / 9:27 PM / 15 days ago

Washington says new COVID-19 data site is better than CDC program it replaced

NEW YORK, July 20 (Reuters) - U.S. officials defended a move to take collection of hospital data on COVID-19 cases away from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying a new data system launched on Monday is more expansive and robust.

Senior Department Health and Human Services officials told a briefing that the new HHS program has data from 4,500 hospitals while the CDC system had data from 3,000 hospitals. The group said that the program uses the same methods that the CDC used to make the government’s COVID-19 projections.

Last week, the health agency asked states to start reporting hospitalization data to the new system instead of the longstanding system the CDC used.

News reports suggested the Trump administration move was aimed at bypassing the CDC, speculation the CDC director rejected last week.

CDC head Robert Redfield said then that the new reporting process was streamlined and modernized, allowing the United States to quickly expand the types of data hospitals are collecting.

The data was taken down from the CDC site late last week prompting concerns about transparency with the public. The data was reinstated on the CDC site before the week ended, and the new data system’s dashboard launched on Monday. (Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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