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After Trump-era seizures and confusion, CDC will regain control of U.S. hospital data


TeleTracking, which has a personal relationship with Trump, made more than $50 million in federal contracts.

Beth Moore

An older man in a business suit listens to a woman in a business suit.An older man in a business suit listens to a woman in a business suit.

enlarge/ U.S. President Donald Trump, right, listens to former coronavirus response coordinator Deborah during a news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., Thursday, April 23, 2020 Speech by Deborah Birx.

This December, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will finally bring the nation’s COVID-19 under control -19 Hospital data – The agency abruptly lost this data to an inexperienced private company early in the pandemic. s to then-President Donald Trump.

As SARS-CoV-2 raged in the summer of 2020, The Trump administration is busy sabotaging the one-time prime minister’s public health agency. The government’s intervention includes taking away the CDC’s power to collect critical data on COVID-19 patients and pandemic resources in hospitals across the country.

According to multiple investigative reports at the time, the then-White House Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the coronavirus task force, was frustrated by the slow and somewhat chaotic process by which the CDC collected and collated data submitted by thousands of hospitals. These data include statistics on admissions, patient demographics, bed availability, ventilator use, discharges and supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).


In July 2020, the Trump administration abruptly directed hospitals to stop reporting all this data to the CDC and instead submit it to A new database run by Pittsburgh software company TeleTracking Technologies. The little-known company won a six-month, $10.2 million contract with the federal government despite having no prior experience building such a data collection system. Before the award, the company had only a small contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs for software that tracks patient status. The $10.2 million in pandemic-era grants is more than 20 times the size of all of the company’s previous government grants combined.

This move quickly caught the attention of reporters and legislators’ questions and concerns. An NPR investigation details how TeleTracking won contract violations. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services initially said it was a no-bid contract — meaning the company was not offering competitive advice to get the job done — only to back down and say there was competition. The department clarified that the contract was won through a low-stakes competitive process known as a “broad agency announcement,” which is typically used for innovative research, rather than building databases.
Meanwhile, TeleTracking co-CEO Michael Zamagias The company won the contract after HHS contacted the company directly by phone, a spokesman told NPR. NPR also noted that Zamagias was a longtime Republican donor and previously worked in the real estate industry. Notably, he has a personal relationship with Cooper-Horowitz, a Manhattan-based real estate financing firm that has worked extensively with the Trump Organization. Neal Cooper’s father was a partner in the firm, and he was closely mentored by Zamagias. Cooper told NPR, “We’ve done a lot of business with [Trump], a multi-billion dollar business.” An older man in a business suit listens to a woman in a business suit.

The end of an era When Trump administration officials communicated to the CDC that TeleTracking was taking over, according to an investigative report in Science, staff immediately knew the transfer would be a disaster. A CDC worker sobbed as he left the announcement meeting. Others were outraged. “Birx has had a months-long attack on our data,” a CDC employee texted a colleague shortly after the meeting. “Fucking luck getting the hospital to clean their data and update it every day.”

CDC staff is right to be pessimistic. The transition to the new system was messy due to technical and management issues. Hospitals complained they didn’t have enough time to prepare and faced frustrating technical issues that required extensive resources at a time when patients were overwhelmed. The result is unreliable data in a public health crisis.
” Day, Vice President, Media and Public Relations, Missouri Hospital Association Dave Dillon told Medical IT News at the time that we were in the dark as we approached our previous peak. “The shift away from known platforms that all individuals can easily manipulate … damages our ability to have this kind of Situational awareness capabilities. ”

Nevertheless, TeleTracking’s contract has been In constant updates, the company has made more than $50 million. Now, that’s coming to an end. The latest contract expires on December 31 and will not be renewed. According to a leaked email seen by Bloomberg News, Hospitals will begin submitting data to CDC again in mid-December.

TeleTracking president and co-CEO Christopher Johnson told Bloomberg, “This change is both a surprise and a disappointment to us. Johnson added that the company will work to make the transition smooth.

The move comes after current CDC director Rochelle Walensky emphasized the modernization of the CDC’s data collection. On Aug. 1, the federal government issued a final rule outlining new measures for the data collection system. Bloomberg noted that some The hospital called the shift “devastating,” but it appeared to be a rare victory for the CDC, which has faced widespread criticism during the pandemic. An older man in a business suit listens to a woman in a business suit.


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