Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
A month after the Trump administration changed how hospital data is reported, the public release of this data "has slowed to a crawl," the Wall Street Journal reports.
The big picture: This is the latest example of how the world's wealthiest country just can't get it together.
Testing and case data — which tell the story of where people are getting sick — have been a problem for the last six months. This latest fiasco blurs the picture of how many people are getting very sick at a given time, which until now has been a more reliable measure of the pandemic.
Driving the news: The Department of Health and Human Services last month ordered states to report coronavirus hospitalization data directly to the agency, rather than to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as they'd been doing.
- Now, important data, like the number of beds occupied by coronavirus patients, is lagging by a week or more.
- The implications go beyond tracking the virus. Hospitalization data is also used by agencies to determine where to send remdesivir and personal protective equipment.
What they're saying: “The transition has been a disaster,” Jeffrey Engel, senior adviser to the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, told the WSJ. “What HHS said was that the CDC was not nimble enough and couldn’t handle new data elements, and that’s simply not true.”
The other side: HHS officials told the WSJ that the new system has a more complete set of data, but that the quality-control process has led to some delays as the new system gets up and running.
The bottom line: We're doing a terrible job handling the pandemic, at least relative to other wealthy countries. The fact that we don't have a good idea of what's happening in real time – and it's getting worse — is one of the major contributors to that failure.