The death toll from the coronavirus in the US has climbed to 12,722, increasing by 1,736 on Tuesday, setting a record for the most COVID-19 deaths in a single day in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Politico has cited unnamed sources as saying that a task force led by US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner is considering the creation of a national coronavirus surveillance system, a task that envisages the involvement of a spate of American health technology companies.
The sources claimed that the goal of the proposed national network is to provide the government with “a near real-time view of where patients are seeking treatment and for what, and whether hospitals can accommodate them”.
“It allows you to be much more targeted and precise in how you engage. They need data to make the policy decisions, and so that’s what we and others now have been asked to do”, one of the sources said.
The COVID-19 surveillance system also aims to help the government to determine which areas in the US “can safely relax social-distancing rules and which should remain vigilant”, indicating a considerable expansion in the use of individual patient data by the government, according to the sources.
In this context, Politico reported that some critics had already likened the system to the PATRIOT Act, also known as Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, which was introduced after the 9/11 attacks. The document, in particular, authorised law enforcement agencies to search a home or business without the owner’s or the occupant’s consent or knowledge.
Politico suggested that the creation of the COVID-19 surveillance system may help the US “get out in front of the fast-spreading virus, which officials anticipate will strain the healthcare systems of nearly every major city over the next few months and threaten to recur in pockets of the nation for some time after that”.
White House spokesman Avi Berkowitz has, meanwhile, described information on the matter as something that “makes no sense and is completely false”.
He added that “the White House gets many unsolicited random proposals on a variety of topics, but Jared has no knowledge of this proposal or the people mentioned in this article who may have submitted it”.
Tuesday saw the coronavirus death toll growing by 1,736 in the US, setting the record for the most coronavirus deaths in a single day. This brought the total number of fatalities in the country to 12,722, according to Johns Hopkins University.
President Trump, for his part, told reporters on Tuesday that the US might be getting to the top of the “curve” of the coronavirus outbreak.