Trump Orders Hospitals to Stop Sending COVID-19 Data to CDC
By Jake Johnson
Public health experts are warning that coronavirus statistics will soon be newly vulnerable to political manipulation after the Trump administration ordered hospitals to send Covid-19 patient data directly to a Department of Health and Human Services system rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which usually receives the information and releases it to the public.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that the HHS database now positioned to collect daily Covid-19 information from hospitals "is not open to the public, which could affect the work of scores of researchers, modelers, and health officials who rely on CDC data to make projections and crucial decisions."
"Health and Human Services said that going forward, hospitals should report detailed information on a daily basis directly to the new centralized system, which is managed by TeleTracking, a health data firm with headquarters in Pittsburgh," the Times noted.
The administration's new directive came in the form of a document quietly posted online last week by HHS, an agency headed by former pharmaceutical executive and Trump appointee Alex Azar.
"As of July 15, 2020, hospitals should no longer report the Covid-19 information in this document to the National Healthcare Safety Network site," the directive states, referring to the CDC's data-gathering system.
Dr. Nicole Lurie, who served in former President Barack Obama's HHS, told the Times that "centralizing control of all data under the umbrella of an inherently political apparatus is dangerous and breeds distrust."
"It appears to cut off the ability of agencies like CDC to do its basic job," said Lurie.
HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo confirmed in a statement to NBC News that the CDC will "no longer control" coronavirus data collection but said the agency will still participate in the process.
Trump has been insistently announcing for weeks he wants to cover up the scale of the epidemic by slowing down test… https://t.co/J1toeskjmJ— Chris Hayes (@Chris Hayes)1594756208.0
While administration officials portrayed the order as part of an attempt to streamline data-collection efforts, health experts were alarmed by the move given President Donald Trump's public attacks on the CDC and his complaints about how the recent surge in coronavirus cases "makes us look bad."
"Speechless—Trump White House is now muzzling, bypassing, and kneecapping the CDC," tweeted epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding. "No other ways to spin this."
Dr. Leana Wen, a visiting professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, said in an interview on MSNBC late Tuesday that the decision to cut the CDC off from crucial Covid-19 patient data could undermine the U.S. response to the pandemic as infections surge across the nation.
"The CDC is supposed to analyze the data coming from different regions of the country," said Wen. "I'm really deeply concerned about what we've seen with the attacks on science and public health in recent days, because public health hinges on public trust. And when politicians—including the top public official, the elected official of our country, President Trump—start attacking public health, it really undermines of all of local, state, and federal response to this pandemic."
While many governments suppress the virus, the U.S. suppresses information about the virus. https://t.co/Ai6tyW8zIP— James Hamblin (@James Hamblin)1594755558.0
The administration's order came just hours after four former CDC directors wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Tuesday that "no president ever politicized [the CDC's] science the way Trump has."
"Trying to fight this pandemic while subverting scientific expertise is like fighting blindfolded," wrote Tom Frieden, Jeffrey Koplan, David Satcher, and Richard Besser. "It is not too late to give the CDC its proper role in guiding this response. But the clock is ticking."
In a column for Esquire Tuesday, Charles Pierce urged hospitals to ignore the Trump administration's directive and "send the data to the CDC anyway."
"It's time for hundreds of little rebellions," Pierce wrote.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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