On March 29, 2020, Vice President Mike Pence requested that hospitals report their COVID-19 testing data to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on a daily basis. This data is “critical” for epidemiological surveillance and public health decision-making. The request is in addition to the daily hospital reporting regarding bed capacity and supplies to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We understand you may be reporting to your state, but the data is needed at the federal level to support FEMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their efforts to support states and localities in addressing and responding to the virus,” Pence wrote in the letter he sent hospital administrators.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force, which Pence leads, already collects data from public health labs and private laboratory companies, but does not have data from hospital laboratories that conduct their own testing. This new data request by the Trump administration will help in monitoring the spread of severe COVID-19 illness and impact to hospitals.
The request primarily applies to hospitals with on-site laboratories. “Academic, university and hospital ‘in-house’ labs are performing thousands of COVID-19 tests each day, but unlike private laboratories, the full results are not shared with government agencies working to track the virus,” Pence wrote. If all testing is sent to private laboratories and performed by one of the commercial laboratories listed in the letter, the hospital does not need to report. Those laboratories include LabCorp, BioReference Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics, Mayo Clinical Laboratories or ARUP Laboratories.
Test results are due to HHS every day at 5 p.m. (ET) and must be reported using a specific spreadsheet included with Pence’s letter. The data must include all test results completed the previous day before midnight. The information should be submitted via email to a FEMA electronic mailbox. Hospitals will report data without personal identifying information to ensure patient privacy. All data provided will be maintained in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974.
McGuireWoods has a dedicated team of specialists that will continue to monitor the White House Coronavirus Task Force and all associated actions as well as official guidance at state and federal levels. Please reach out to our team if you have questions.
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