BOSTON, JULY 28, 2020 — Stressing that a new directive from the White House imperils public health and dangerously undermines transparency during the COVID-19 pandemic, Attorney General Maura Healey today led a multistate effort urging the Trump Administration to immediately withdraw its new reporting structure that prohibits hospitals from reporting COVID-19 data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and instead creates a system controlled solely by the U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services.
The letter, sent today to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II by AG Healey and 21 other attorneys general, urges the department to restore the CDC to its rightful role as the primary authority over and source of information about the nation’s public health data.
“This new directive from President Trump is as absurd as it is dangerous – and it’s not the first time he’s tried to hide information that is inconvenient for him,” said AG Healey. “As this pandemic continues to claim lives across our country, it’s imperative that our nation’s public health experts have full authority and control over all coronavirus data – the health and safety of all Americans depend on it.”
In the letter, the attorneys general argue that the Trump Administration’s decision to bypass the CDC in this national crisis harms the nation’s ability to track and respond to the pandemic, hampers state and local public health efforts to address the crisis in their communities, risks compromising the health data of millions of Americans, and undermines public confidence in any reports about COVID-19 coming from the federal government.
The letter also points out that the CDC is the nation’s authority on infectious disease, and state and local public health authorities and researchers rely on CDC data sources for responding to the pandemic in their communities and informing the science behind the virus. Disaggregated data provided by the CDC has revealed the disparate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and informed efforts to address racial and ethnic health inequities. The attorneys general insist that public health authorities and researchers must have access to the data they need to continue their vital work. Also, the attorneys general point out that this new reporting structure requires hospital data be reported in a separate system than nursing home data and gives sensitive information to private contractors without assurance of appropriate protections.
The attorneys general contend that any issues with COVID-19 data reporting, analysis and tracking should be addressed by increasing support for the CDC and investing in its systems – not by circumventing the nation’s top public health experts.
Today’s letter was led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
Visit AG Healey’s COVID-19 resource page for information about how the AG’s Office can provide support during this crisis.