AHCJ backs public data about COVID-19 hospitalizations

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's vice president and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.


Photo: Norman Mosjos via Flickr

The Association of Health Care Journalists strongly urges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to keep public all data related to COVID-19 hospitalizations and to post the numbers as soon as they are available.

The Trump administration ordered hospitals to stop reporting COVID-19 data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send patient information to a central database in Washington, D.C., starting this week.

The data tracks hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, giving the public information about hospital beds availability and whether hospitalizations are increasing or decreasing.

The data were removed from the CDC website this week but was placed back on the site – for now. ProPublica reported that data may no longer be updated because of a change in federal reporting requirements to hospitals.

“Americans have the right to know all the facts concerning a pandemic that continues to affect everyone’s lives, and hospitalizations are a key indicator in our understanding of the  disease’s impact,” AHCJ’s board of directors and Right to Know Committee members said in a statement.

“We object to the removal of data collection from the purview of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if that means the information will be unavailable to the public or subject to political influence. Transparency has never been more essential.”

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