By Rachel Kraus
Restricting the public’s access to information is always a good sign for a free society, right?!
The website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) usually contains a trove of publicly available data about health issues. During the coronavirus crisis, the COVID-19 data published on the site has been a crucial source for researchers and experts studying the pandemic as well as journalists tracking and publicizing the virus’ spread.
The Trump administration is changing that. The website will no longer publish and make data available to the public on some key coronavirus metrics, CNN reports.
The website edit comes thanks to a Trump administration policy change. On Tuesday, the government announced that hospitals should no longer send their daily COVID-19 reports on patients, equipment, and capacity to the CDC. Instead, hospitals are to send the data to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The Trump administration says the change is a way of reorganizing and consolidating the data. However, unlike data sent to the CDC, what’s submitted to the HHS won’t be available to the public.
The data that will no longer appear on the COVID-19 module of the website, according to CNN, is: “current inpatient and intensive care unit bed occupancy, health care worker staffing, and personal protective equipment supply status and availability.”
Experts are alarmed by the change, saying that removing the data from public view indicates that the Trump administration may restrict and politicize health information. Throughout the pandemic, Trump’s stance has been to downplay the disease that has so far killed some 138,000 Americans. Despite a current surge in cases, Trump is currently pushing to re-open schools in the fall, even though his own health experts strongly advise against it.
Typically, the CDC is more politically independent than the HHS. Indeed, the current director of the CDC has advocated strongly for a universal mask-wearing policy, while the Trump administration has equivocated on the issue. Meanwhile, the current head of HHS is seen as a Trump stalwart who has led initiatives restricting Medicaid and protecting health-care workers who decline to provide contraception on the basis of religious beliefs.
Just another sunny day in America, people!
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