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Time: The U.S. Still Doesn’t Have Good COVID-19 Data; Here’s Why That’s a Problem

Time magazine recently interviewed Susan Cheng, MD, MPH, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging in the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute, about the need for better tracking and reporting of COVID-19 cases, which influences our knowledge on a variety of topics, including how the virus interacts with other health conditions.

It can be challenging to determine whether COVID-19 caused a hospitalization or death if a patient is suffering from an additional condition or severe illness. Figuring out if COVID-19 is the root cause is a “murky” process, said Cheng, a professor of cardiology and the Erika J. Glazer Chair in Women's Cardiovascular Health and Population Science at Cedars-Sinai.

“It’s hard to parse things out except in the most extremely obvious cases,” Cheng told Time, adding that the process is far from smooth.

“Right now, the health care system is still struggling to keep up,” she said. “We’re doing the best we can with the knowledge we have to code [cases and deaths] as appropriately as possible. But we’re not even close to the ideal state of being able to talk about what that means in practice about [getting consistency in] how we are coding these things.”

Cheng, who was senior investigator on a recent study exploring the connection between high blood pressure and COVID-19, told Time that better data is needed to improve our understanding of how COVID-19 interacts with other diseases.

“We have never seen anything like this virus before, so we’d love to understand how this virus is different from all of the other viruses we have seen in our lifetime,” Cheng told Time. “That way we can be better prepared to counsel, treat, and manage patients as we move forward living with COVID-19.”

Click here to read the complete article in Time.