EXCLUSIVE: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Nationwide Tracking System is Now Live

Dozens of hospitals are reported to have begun uploading troves of data that will help officials guide the response to the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a new surveillance system to track various aspects of the covid-19 pandemic on Friday.

In the first 24 hours alone, “dozens of hospitals” voluntarily uploaded healthcare facility- level data into the system, Brief19 has learned in an interview with a CDC official involved in the development and launch of the program, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Earlier this week, we were first to report the CDC’s plans for this initiative, which leverages the fifteen- year old National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), a system that has been in use for tracking several measures of quality, by introducing a new data-entry module that hospital officials can use to upload covid-19 data.

The debut of the covid-19 module was announced in an email viewed by Brief19 that was sent to approximately 7,000 hospitals in the United States (below).

While still early, the launch was characterized as “successful,” the official told us. The system will gather and report data on bed capacity, bed occupancy, and the number of patients requiring mechanical ventilation. It will also publish data on hospital-acquired infections and deaths (see table).

So far, participation in the covid-19 reporting module is voluntary, unlike other many other NHSN programs which hospitals are required to do. “The expectation is that hundreds of hospitals would be participating and submitting in a matter of days,” the official said. An online training session led by the CDC is scheduled for Tuesday, which officials hope will increase participation.

If other federal agencies, such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or Congress, use their relevant levers of power to either require or incentivize participation, up to 7,000 hospitals would be in play. The goal is for the program to provide granular information to state and local officials in order to guide the response to a pandemic that continues to evade control, stretching healthcare systems beyond their limits in places like New York. States could also choose to make participation required. If a place like California enacted such a policy, its nearly 500 acute care hospitals would immediately be required to provide daily data.

The CDC has been criticized for its slow response to the pandemic. This program was described as “the strongest asset that the CDC has in this arena right now.”

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Source: https://www.cdc.gov/nhsn/pdfs/covid19/import-covid10-data-508.pdf