According to a new report from the nonpartisan congressional watchdog, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are relying on an outdated system to track their contact with air travelers.
The way the CDC collects and manages airline passenger information – including the use of a data management system developed in the mid-2000s – hampers the agency’s ability to communicate, the office said. Government Accountability Office report Find. The report describes contact tracing as “the process of identifying and notifying passengers who may have come into contact with an infected person in flight”.
For example, the CDC was not able to “quickly and accurately determine the number of passengers who came into contact with a particular infected passenger on a flight.”
As a result, CDC is not positioned to effectively analyze and disseminate data to inform public health policies and respond to disease threats. “It’s also not positioned to gauge its performance in collecting and sharing quality passenger information.”
Exacerbating these age-old challenges is COVID-19 pandemic, the report found. The pandemic has highlighted how interconnected the world has become and how modern travel can accelerate the spread of disease. CDC officials say the number of flights requesting contact tracing in 2020 is up more than 10,000% from 2019.
“The ability of public health authorities to quickly contact potentially exposed passengers to advise them on post-exposure actions, such as testing or treatment,” said the report. isolation, is an important factor to stop the chain of disease transmission”. “Incorrect or incomplete contact information can delay or even prevent notification of exposed passengers, potentially leading to wider community spread.”
The Department of Health and Human Services – of which CDC is the executive arm – agreed with the GAO’s recommendations and noted that the agency is in the early stages of redesigning its data management system. .
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