After more than two years of publishing data on COVID-19 cases and deaths on a daily basis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday it would shift to weekly updates to its nationwide tracking of the virus.
“To allow for additional reporting flexibility, reduce the reporting burden on states and jurisdictions, and maximize surveillance resources, CDC is moving to a weekly reporting cadence,” the agency wrote in a post to explain the move.
Starting on October 20, state and local health departments will now only need to report new COVID-19 cases and deaths to the agency every week on Wednesdays.
The CDC’s COVID-19 Community Level ratings, which guide recommendations on whether counties should be taking steps like masking to curb a surge in hospitalizations, are already updated only weekly on Thursdays. COVID-19 forecasts updated by the agency will also now come on a day later on Thursdays.
The CDC’s move to ditch daily COVID-19 reporting follows many states and other countries, which had already stopped releasing these daily metrics earlier this year.
Health officials have long acknowledged that new COVID-19 cases are now being largely undercounted, given the widespread use of unreported at-home tests for the virus.
The agency also moved over the summer to shift from daily to weekly reporting of vaccinations, which are now published only on Thursdays.
Other parts of the CDC’s online COVID-19 tools are also being wound down this month.
A “self-checker” chatbot to help people figure out when to seek testing and medical care is due to be scrapped on Friday. The CDC’s country-by-countryfor the virus were erased earlier this week.
For now, the CDC is still publishing data on COVID-19 hospitalizations that are collected daily through a separate agency: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.It is unclear if daily reporting of these figures will continue after COVID-19 hospitalization data is handed over to the CDC’s control in December.
The shift to weekly reporting echoes the way the CDC tracks some other viruses. For example, the agency has long published a weekly report on data collected about the surveillance of influenza around the country.
However, the CDC is still publishing daily updates to its tally of cases in the monkeypox virus outbreak, even as some countries abroad have shifted to weekly updates and the pace of new cases in the U.S. has slowed steeply.
It also comes as federal health authorities have been bracing for a potential repeat of the past two deadly winter waves of COVID-19, paired with a.
“I was on the phone with colleagues in health departments throughout the country just two nights ago, and everyone is having the same experience,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’schief medical adviser, said Tuesday at an event hosted by the University of Southern California.
Fauci cited a “considerable diminution” around the country in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths reported from COVID-19.
But he warned that an array of new variants now growing across the country, plus the risk respiratory diseases pose every winter, suggested “it would be a bit cavalier to all of a sudden say we’re completely through with it.”
“Although we can feel good that we’re going in the right direction, we can’t let our guard down,” said Fauci.