The Trump administration asked hospitals in a letter Sunday to begin reporting daily COVID-19 testing data to the Department of Health and Human Services, as the government looks to improve its surveillance of the coronavirus.
The approximately 4,700 hospitals nationally were also asked to report bed capacity and supply to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network’s COVID-19 patient impact and hospital capacity module to help identify what needs exist.
The letter was sent by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees Medicare-participating health care providers like hospitals, on behalf of Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
“This data will help us better understand disease patterns and develop policies for prevention and control of health problems related to COVID-19,” Pence wrote. “All data provided by hospitals will be maintained in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, 5 U.S.C. § 552a.”
Hospitals are expected to report the data without including personally identifiable information on patients.
Public health laboratories and private lab companies already provide their data to the task force. But the CDC and Federal Emergency Management Agency require academic and hospital “in-house” lab data as well in assisting states — some of which have already requested the data themselves — and localities with additional resources.
The task force supplied hospitals with a spreadsheet to be completed no later than 5 p.m. EDT daily.
“America’s hospitals are demonstrating incredible resilience in this unprecedented situation, and we look forward to partnering further with them going forward,” said Seema Verma, CMS administrator, in a statement.