The purpose of this guide is to answer the questions above. The guide is divided into pages, based on geographic areas, starting with local and leading to global. Use the linked tabs on the left to navigate to those pages.
The graphic below demonstrates how surveillance data in the past has moved from local to global settings. You can find it and other explanations about data collection at the U.S. Center for Disease Control website. That said, the reporting laws have changed a few times since the COVID-19 pandemic began. See the United States tab for further details. During COVID, hospitals are now directed to report daily to HHS rather than the CDC.
As it relates to epidemiology, a model is a mathematical or conceptual understanding of a real phenomenon. They are important for their predictive ability and therefore their usefulness to decision makers. If you are investing stock in the stock market and you have a model that is accurate months into the future, you will make a lot of money. In epidemiology, if you have an accurate model of how a disease acts and spreads over days or months, then you can create laws and policies that save lives. At the beginning of the COVID pandemic scientists had only generic epidemiology models and nothing specific for COVID. Now, there are much more detailed and accurate models and scientists are making them better. That said, just like weather, their are too many variables to perfectly predict a pandemic. The data linked from this guide are essential to creating better models.
Missouri provides weekly COVID model results by region of the state to better inform policy makers.
On March 29, 2020 Vice President Mike Pence asked hospital administrators to submit spreadsheets about certain COVID-19 information daily to a FEMA email address. On July 10, other guidance was given by HHS that stated information should be sent to a new system at HHS. Part of this guidance was also that hospitals were not to submit data to the CDC anymore. A modified version of that guidance was sent out as a memorandum by HHS on October 6. A further revised version of the guidance is online from December 8.
If state health agencies collect data and submit it, in a specified manner, to HHS, then hospitals did not have to do it directly. Missouri is not listed as a state that can submit information at the state level so local hospitals must do it themselves. The graphic above therefore doesn't quite match reality for COVID-19 reporting at this point. (December 11, 2020)