DC Health responds to probe from council members on COVID-19 data

The District’s health director has responded to calls from the D.C. council to investigate why the health department didn’t report its COVID-19 data to the Centers for Disease Control for almost two weeks.

Six members of the D.C. Council last week wrote a letter calling for an investigation after D.C.’s health department didn’t update COVID-19 data to the CDC from April 27 to May 8.

DC Health director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said in a letter that D.C. had been providing manual and automated reports to the CDC. She said that for those two weeks starting April 27, the manual reporting from D.C. Health to the CDC was stopped; she said it’s back in sync.

The council also requested that D.C. Health increase the frequency of its posts on its own website for better public planning.

Nesbitt said that they won’t be changing that, citing a high degree of burnout from public health workers.

“The current public health workforce is experiencing a high degree of psychological stress, commonly referred to as ‘burnout,’ having experienced over two years of 12+-hour workdays, attacks — both verbal and physical — on public health professionals, and significant misinformation about public health and our work. In response to that, and shifting goals of the pandemic response, public health agencies throughout the United States have reoriented how they share data to effectively inform the public of their risk without straining an already reduced public health workforce,” Nesbitt said.

She said they switched to the new reporting process in March and report a full week of data from each Wednesday through Tuesday.

Nesbitt said the request from the council to report data from Wednesday through Monday would not improve the public’s ability to understand their public health risk.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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