Hospitals nationwide must send all information about coronavirus patients directly to the Trump administration starting Wednesday, bypassing the federal health agency that publishes key medical data.

"As of July 15, 2020, hospitals should no longer report the Covid-19 information in this document to the National Healthcare Safety Network site," document posted on the HHS website read. 

National Healthcare Safety Network site is the primary CDC system that currently handles data from some 25,000 U.S. medical institutions.

From now on, the Department of Health and Human Services will collect daily reports about the coronavirus patients that each hospital is treating, the number of available beds and ventilators, and all other information important to track the updates during the pandemic.

Hospitals should directly report detailed information daily to the new centralized system, managed by TeleTracking, a health data firm with headquarters in Pittsburgh. Those hospitals already reporting such information to their states could continue to do so if they have received a written release from the state saying that they would handle the reporting.

"This data will be used to inform decisions at the federal level, such as allocation of supplies, treatments, and other resources," the document posted read.

 However, this move from the Trump administration has alarmed health experts who fear that such data can be politicized or withheld from the public.

"Centralizing control of all data under the umbrella of an inherently political apparatus is dangerous and breeds mistrust," said Dr. Nicole Lurie, former assistant secretary for preparation and response under former President Barack Obama. "It seems to be preventing agencies like the CDC from doing their basic work," Dr.  Lurie told the New York Times.

According to The New York Times, the shift comes as a result of a conference call between Dr. Deborah L. Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, and the hospital leaders that happened several weeks ago. 

Dr. Birx, after saying that the hospitals were not adequately reporting their data, assembled a working group of government and hospital officials who formulated the new plan, according to Dr. Janis Orlowski, the chief health care officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges, who was also part of the group meeting.

Calling the change "a sincere effort to streamline and improve data collection,"  Dr. Orlowski said the Trump administration had pledged in "a verbal discussion" that the data sent to the system would continue to be publicly released or at least give hospitals access to it.

"We are comfortable with that as long as they continue to work with us, as long as they continue to make the information public, and as long as we’re able to continue to advise them and look at the data," she told the publication.

Responding to the new shift, Will Humble, the executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association and a former director of the state’s Health Services Department, told The New York Times that "Trust and accountability and transparency — all three go together," "They’d better keep it transparent, or else people are going to think that it was an ulterior motive."

 The TeleTracking system set up by HHS and the CDC network, however, goes old school and completely rely on push data, meaning that the hospital employees must manually enter all the obtained data.

"The whole thing needs to be scrapped and started anew," Dr. Dan Hanfling, an expert in medical and disaster preparedness and a vice president at In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit strategic investment firm focused on national security told the publication. "It is laughable that this administration can’t find the wherewithal to bring 21st-century technologies in data management to the fight."

coronavirus can possibly recur seasonally, cdc director warns coronavirus can possibly recur seasonally, cdc director warns Photo: Alexandra_Koch - Pixabay