CDC: Hospitals no longer required to report COVID-19 data

Photo: Joos Mind/Getty Images

Beginning Wednesday, hospitals are no longer required to report COVID-19 hospital admissions, hospital capacity, or hospital occupancy data to the Department of Health and Human Services, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To date, hospitals had reported the data to HHS through the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network.

While hospitals are no longer required to submit the data, the CDC is still encouraging them to do so voluntarily. Data voluntarily reported to NHSN after May 1 will be available starting May 10 at COVID Data Tracker Hospitalizations.

The source of hospital information on the COVID Data Tracker home page will change from the National Healthcare Safety Network to COVID-NET. Instead of displaying national counts of new hospital admissions, it will show COVID-19 hospitalization rates per 100,000 people.

WHAT’S THE IMPACT?

According to CDC data, COVID-19-related hospitalizations reached a record low of 5,615 for the week ending April 20th.

In February, the CDC said it was monitoring a new COVID-19 strain, BA.2.87.1, which has more than 30 changes in the coronavirus spike protein. The spike protein is what the immune system targets when a virus enters a body. Immune systems are primed to protect people through immunity gained from vaccines and previous infections. In theory, variants with multiple changes in the spike protein could increase the possibility of escape from this immunity.

In the past year, several variants have had significant changes in their spike protein. Yet, despite those changes, existing immunity from vaccines and previous infections still provides good protection, the CDC said.

THE LARGER TREND

Currently, the fastest-spreading COVID-19 variant in the U.S. is JN.1, representing about 21% of new cases as of December.

JN.1 was first detected in the U.S. in September, and for the first month or so only accounted for 0.1% of coronavirus transmissions. The fact that it has continued to grow and the rate at which it’s growing suggest that it’s either more transmissible or is better at working around people’s immune systems. Still, the CDC didn’t find evidence that the variant presents an increased risk to public health compared to other current variants.

That’s a positive finding not just for patients, but for hospitals, whose resources and workforces were strained almost to the breaking point during the height of the pandemic.
 

Jeff Lagasse is editor of Healthcare Finance News.
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare Finance News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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