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July 16, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – In a move that may signal an attempt to ensure greater accuracy of COVID-19 statistics, the Trump administration issued a new guidance this week asking hospitals to report data on the virus to the federal Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) rather than the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
Effective Wednesday, hospitals are to submit data to either their state government’s health department, which will in turn submit it to the federal government, or to HHS via the department’s TeleTracking website. Previously, they submitted data to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network, The Hill noted.
As of July 16, the United States has seen more than 3.6 million cases of COVID-19, with more than 140,000 deaths and 1.6 million recoveries. But since the coronavirus outbreak hit earlier this year, substantial questions have lingered as to both the accuracy and the significance of the numbers, with a common point of contention being the media emphasizing rising case counts (often a byproduct of expanded testing) without similarly noting level or declining deaths.
In May, The Washington Post reported that Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, privately admitted “there is nothing from the CDC that I can trust.” Birx reportedly suspected that deaths might be inflated by as much as 25 percent, given the problem of hospitals and health agencies classifying “COVID-19 deaths” as anyone who died after testing positive for the virus, even if the virus was not their actual cause of death.
That problem has been confirmed to have occurred in states such as Colorado, and recent investigations have uncovered further evidence of egregious data “errors” at the state level.
After a Fox 35 investigation of “countless” Florida testing labs reporting wildly-implausible positivity rates of 100 percent, as well as various other labs reporting other suspiciously high rates, the Florida Department of Health admitted that some private labs did not report any of their negative findings to the state.
The investigation also found several outright errors, such as Orlando Health reporting a 98 percent positivity rate when the true rate was 9.4 percent, and Orlando Veterans Medical Center reporting a positivity rate of 76 percent when the actual rate was just 6 percent.
Additionally, Texas officials removed 3,484 cases from its positivity count this week upon learning that the San Antonio Health Department was classifying “probable cases” as “confirmed” positives despite never having tested them, KTSA reported.
Only ~60% of deaths are reported w/in 10 days, so ultimately there's a significant shift backwards in time from “dashboard date” (blue bars) to “true date” of death (orange bars). Table below reformats CDC data to clarify counts. https://t.co/hkF33vTQXo pic.twitter.com/0jKlqhQIHH
— Todd Lowdon (@tlowdon) May 2, 2020
This is why CDC's dated & coded deaths = 37K, but the dashboard reports = 48K for the same period (thru Apr 25). Thru today, May 2, dashboard cumulative figures are ~60K. The difference between 60K & the CDC report's 37K is the time lag & the extra week between Apr 25 and May 2.
— Todd Lowdon (@tlowdon) May 2, 2020
Nevertheless, coverage of the rise in case counts has been enough to get several leaders such as Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas, Mike DeWine of Ohio, and Kay Ivey of Alabama to re-impose several lockdown measures, such as mandatory mask-wearing in public spaces.