The CDC will continue tracking this year’s particularly severe flu season during the government shutdown, according to a contingency plan from the Department of Health and Human Services.
While the government is shut down, only federal activity deemed essential remains uninterrupted — and, according to the HHS document, that will include influenza monitoring and reporting.
“CDC’s immediate response to urgent disease outbreaks, including seasonal influenza, would continue,” the plan says. “To continue ongoing influenza surveillance, CDC would collect data being reported by states, hospitals and others, and report out critical information needed for state and local health authorities and providers to track, prevent and treat the disease.”
The CDC tracks a host of data related to the flu, including its spread across the country, confirmed cases and deaths and hospitalizations related to the virus. The 2018 flu season, which has been particularly active, has kept the agency especially busy, even prompting a last-minute briefing on the topic last week.
Despite the continuation of flu tracking, however, the CDC is likely to be short-staffed during the shutdown. Sixty-three percent of CDC employees, some 8,500 people, will be furloughed during the shutdown, according to the HHS plan.
Half of all HHS employees — including those from the FDA, NIH and other health agencies — will be furloughed, according to the report.