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Real Estate CEO Captaining New Coronavirus Data Collection From CDC

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A tech firm headed by a real estate investor and developer has landed a $10.2M government contract to collect coronavirus data.

Pittsburgh-based TeleTracking Technologies, which builds healthcare software platforms, is taking over the collection of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CEO Michael Zamagias is also the founder, chairman and CEO of Zamagias Properties, a real estate investment and development company.

The Trump administration announced last week in a document posted to the Department of Health and Human Services website that coronavirus patient information would go to a centralized database in Washington, D.C. Daily reports from participating hospitals will be sent to the TeleTracking-managed system, detailing how many coronavirus patients are being treated and the number of available beds and ventilators, among other data.

The decision has unnerved politicians and health experts because of the potential for the data to be kept from the public, The New York Times reported. Sen. Patty Murray, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, called the TeleTracking agreement a “noncompetitive, multimillion-dollar contract” for a “duplicative health data system.”

Officials backing the move disputed that last week. “Data is the fuel of any public health response,” CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said during a briefing Wednesday. “No one is taking data or access away from CDC.”

President Donald Trump has recently claimed that the elevated number of positive coronavirus cases in the U.S. is the result of increased testing. The Trump administration is now working to block billions of dollars that would go toward state-level testing, contact tracing and the CDC, The Washington Post reported Saturday. The funds would come as part of a coronavirus relief bill that is expected to be debated before Congress recesses in August.

While the previous platform collected data from fewer than half of the nation's 6,200 hospitals, the new data collection platform, known as HHS Protect, will eventually allow health officials to see how the virus is affecting individual communities, CDC Chief Information Officer Jose Arrieta said.

Before being granted the contract to assume tracking responsibilities from the CDC, TeleTracking “released a new enterprise COVID-19 capacity and census dashboard to equip health systems with the critical information needed to prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 patient surge,” according to its website.

The dashboard reportedly provides hospital systems the real-time capacity to segment for bed availability and patients confirmed or suspected to have contracted COVID-19.