The CDC is still trying to fix its data problem

Two years after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still trying to improve the way it collects and analyzes public health data. Politics reported

An email dated March 16, reviewed by Politics of Dan Jernigan, CDC’s deputy director for Public Health Science and Monitoring, mentioned the Data Modernization Initiative — a plan that involves integrating state and federal data systems and providing funding for states to hire executives to work with data to work.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the stark limitations of U.S. public health data systems: Information is stored in individual hospitals and local health departments, and often takes a winding path before reaching the federal level. Labs couldn’t send business information directly from their own data systems to the CDC, relying on emails and faxes to relay information. Some data collection programs required manual entry. It took federal agencies weeks and months to find answers to questions that other countries could answer in real time.

jernigan told Politics that the CDC is spending $3 billion to help states hire and train new employees to work with public health data. The CDC’s Renewed Efforts Come as the United States Stares Down another wave of viral infection by COVID-19 variants.

Improving public health data systems would help the agency monitor more effectively all public health threats, not just COVID-19. If the efforts are successful and properly funded, they may also leave the US in a better position for future pandemics.


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