There are concerns among epidemiologists that a new directive shifting COVID-19 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has the potential to further overwhelm state and local public health systems already drowning in the recent surge in cases.

University of Delaware epidemiologist Jennifer Horney – one of the leading voices on the COVID-19 pandemic – said her main concerns are the perception that data may be manipulated to achieve political goals and the timing of the introduction of a new system in the midst of a pandemic.

But also troubling is where the data will be going and who will be handling it. Horney said there are concerns about the interoperability of Protect - HHS's data system - with exiting data systems across the Federal public health enterprise.

Horney also questioned why Palantir, the firm funded by Trump ally Peter Thiel, was awarded contracts by HHS for its alternate data systems earlier this year.