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WASHINGTON — The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention needs Congress to help it collect more data from state, local, and tribal public health departments, Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday evening.

“There have been numerous pieces written about how the CDC is not sharing the data on ‘x,’ and I just say, ‘Boy, would I love to share the data on “x.” I’d love to have the data on “x” so I can share it with you,’” Walensky said at the Milken Future of Health Summit.

The agency faced criticism earlier this year that it hadn’t published all of the Covid-19 data it has access to in real time, including some wastewater data and booster effectiveness information.

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Walensky visited Capitol Hill Wednesday in an effort to advocate for the new authorities, she said. Lawmakers are negotiating an end-of-year package to fund the government and potentially accomplish other priorities.

One example she gave of the CDC’s current data limitations is that in the agency’s first report on mpox, the agency only had race data on 23% of cases. She also said it took two months to work with 61 jurisdictions to settle on data sharing agreements for mpox vaccine administration data, even in the midst of a public health emergency, which left the government with no visibility into how a scarce resource was being distributed.

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Ending the Covid-19 public health emergency, which could conclude as early as next year, will make it even harder, Walensky said.

“The context of a public health emergency allows us a little bit more flexibility to see those data,” Walensky said. “In two years will I be able to report on Covid-19 community levels? I can’t tell you that.”

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