CDC director says he wasn't involved in decision to reroute COVID-19 hospitalization data

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told Congress on Friday that he was not directly involved in the Trump administration’s decision ordering hospitals to stop sending COVID-19 data directly to the agency.

The administration earlier this month told hospitals to start reporting hospitalization and testing data to a new Health and Humans Services database managed by a private contractor, bypassing the CDC.

“We weren't directly involved in the final decision but what I can say is this: CDC then and now continues to have access to all data, does all the data analytics, so there's no restriction of any of the data,” Director Robert Redfield told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Response.

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Redfield, under questioning from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), said he was told of the change after the decision was made by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the parent agency of the CDC.

He also said he has not discussed the decision with HHS Secretary Alex Azar or Vice President Pence, who has led the administration’s COVID-19 response.

Redfield said the purpose of the switch was to improve access to real-time hospitalization data so the administration can have a better idea of where to send remdesivir, a drug that has been proven to treat COVID-19.

“I think the reason that changes were made was to ensure that individuals could get access to remdesivir in a timely fashion,” Redfield said.

The change was criticized by some public health experts who worry the administration is sidelining the CDC in its coronavirus response.