The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has long collected and disseminated data on vitality and health. But why is its data dissemination so terminally ill? Covid-19 has drawn the spotlight on to the internal workings and the possibilities of the CDC’s data collection and distribution efforts. This period has shown that the CDC is capable of distributing timely data in accessible formats for public use. It should apply this data transparency and dissemination standard to the other data it collects – including that on other topics currently and historically important to the public interest. For example, it should adopt the same strategy in its releases on marriage rates, divorce rates, death rates, suicides, drug overdoses, live births, abortions and infant mortality. The rapid dissemination of each of these key statistics is in the public interest. Each would inform current debates on public policy, and historical data of respectable frequency would allow for effective research.
The global lockdowns have both brought about new crises and amplified other public health crises. But since these other vitals are not being measured and reported at the same frequency, we are in effect ignoring them completely. In this respect, the failures of the CDC’s data collection and dissemination practices are directly leading to poor policy outcomes.