By Julia Lane, New York University
The Conversation Editor’s note: When the Trump administration ordered hospitals to report COVID-19 data to the Department of Health and Human Services rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they had been doing, it provoked worries and criticism from public health experts. The White House said that the HHS system will provide more accurate data faster, but the switch did raise concerns that political considerations would influence what data is reported. Professor of public policy Julia Lane, who recently published the book “Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto,” explains why public data is vital to public health and democracy in general. What was the main concern over the data? The whole point of having a career civil service running public data systems is that, because they can’t be fired, they have the integrity to produce the statistics the best way possible.