CDC announces surveillance plan for Covid-19

Feb. 17, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is implementing disease surveillance procedures to track the spread of the Covid-19 in the U.S. At a press conference on Feb. 14, Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said the agency is leveraging existing procedures at state public health labs to track influenza and viral respiratory outbreaks. The rollout of the modified procedures will start at public laboratories in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and New York.

“When a specimen tests negative for the flu, they will test it for Covid-19,” Messonnier said. However, the CDC plans to add more public health labs “in the coming weeks until we have national surveillance,” Messonnier said.

CDC officials chose to modify the existing surveillance system because it is “an efficient way to standup something quickly,” she added.

The idea is to track and analyze Covid-19 data in the same way that the agency monitors Influenza data. “It is an extra layer of our response that will help us detect if—and when—this virus is spreading in the community. Results from this surveillance would be an early warning signal to trigger a change in our response strategy,” from primarily containment to primarily mitigation, Messonnier said.

Moving to a mitigation response involves social-distancing strategies such as canceling mass gatherings and replacing in-person work and school with remote options.

Messonnier said CDC officials expect these types of actions—should they become necessary—to be effective in disrupting the spread of Covid-19 because those measures have been successful in combating influenza. So far, Covid-19 appears to spread in a similar way as influenza does, she said.

CDC has the statement.

 More COVID-19 coverage HERE.