The Trump administration is asking governors to consider sending the National Guard to hospitals to help improve data collection about novel coronavirus patients, supplies and capacity, according to a letter, internal emails and officials familiar with the plans.
In a letter to the nation’s governors that says the National Guard could help improve hospitals’ data flow, HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Deborah Birx, the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator, say they ordered the changes because some hospitals have failed to report the information daily or completely. That portrayal, and the involvement of the National Guard, have infuriated hospital industry leaders, who say any data collection problems lie primarily with HHS and repeatedly shifting federal instructions.
The new protocol, to begin Wednesday, leaves health-care institutions to report information daily about covid-19, the disease caused by the novel virus, to a federal contractor or to their state, which would coordinate the federal reporting.
Public health experts say bypassing the CDC could harm the quality of data and the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.