The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) released a new report this week that breaks down four problem areas in interstate responses and outcomes to the COVID-19 pandemic and makes recommendations for better disease-related data-sharing mechanisms between states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC).
The report comes from a NAPA working group on the intergovernmental dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic, prepared in spring 2021. The four problem areas identified by the working group include:
- testing for COVID-19;
- Non-pharmaceutical interventions to reduce the risk of infection;
- vaccine distribution; and
- Cross-cutting and overarching issues.
The fourth and final problem area addresses data collection and tracking and supply chain management issues. The report recommends that both the federal and state governments improve disease data sharing. The report made two general recommendations:
- Improving the way state health agencies and the CDC collect and share data, including on disease definition, and creating a “real-time web-based national data system” to receive standardized reports from 57 public health jurisdictions; and
- Receive anonymized information about communicable diseases through new federal laws and/or treaties with those who hold health records of large segments of the population.
“It is important to understand where crisis response has appeared to be going well and where uncertainties around laws, government agencies and other matters have hampered effective crisis response as – as recent history has made clear – we are once again faced with additional and potentially more serious global threats from infectious diseases will face in the coming years,” NAPA wrote.
In total, NAPA made 37 recommendations related to the four problem areas identified by the working group. Some of these are for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other organizations within HHS, including the Public Health Service (PHS), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the CDC.
“Understanding the US public health infrastructure begins with recognizing that the system consists of complex intergovernmental dimensions, with legal authority resting with city, county, state and federal public departments and agencies,” the report states.
“Basically, public health systems in the US rely on collaboration for the system to work because in an intergovernmental model, the federal government manages some functions while states and their communities manage others, tailoring them to the wants and needs of their respective populations. ” it says.