Transparency News, 5/27/20


May 27, 2020
Not much in the newsletter. Thank goodness it's free!
But you can still support us by donating today. Thank you!
state & local news stories

Virginia health officials have no plans to report the number of COVID-19 patients who have recovered from the disease. Other states, including Tennessee, regularly update the number of patients who have recovered, which also provides an indication of the number of active cases. On its website Tuesday, the Tennessee Department of Health listed 20,965 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, 13,344 recovered, 343 total deaths and 1,609 hospitalized since it began. The Virginia Department of Health website lists total confirmed cases with demographic and regional breakdowns, hospitalizations and deaths — all since the pandemic began in March. There is no indication, however, how many have recovered versus the number of active cases. “It [discharged recoveries] is readily available in the public domain and accurately produced in the number of discharges from the hospital by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. From our perspective, that is sufficient to make sure that information is readily available,” Dr. Dan Carey, Virginia secretary of health and human services, said.
Bristol Herald Courier
stories of national interest
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is pushing back hard against bipartisan criticism of a hastily awarded contract that put a little-known North Texas technology company in charge of the state’s effort to track down people who may be exposed to the coronavirus.  The company, MTX Group, asserted in its bid for the $295 million contract — with little evidence — that it had “extensive experience” doing contact tracing in several U.S. states.The contract has stirred controversy since Hearst Newspapers first reported on it a week ago. On Friday, health authorities finally released a redacted copy of the $295 million contract, blacking out large portions of MTX’s bid proposal. An unredacted version of the contract, obtained by Hearst Newspapers, shows the extent of the censorship of the company’s bid: blocked out descriptions of its hiring process, the numbers of employees that could be brought on board, the contact tracing platform that will be used and visualizations of the app that shows how the company will help keep track of infected people, people they interacted with and “family members.” Though state officials have said the company would likely hire no more than 1,000 contact tracers, MTX said in its proposal that it “can source well beyond 5,000 agents if required. The model currently proposes 4,500 as MTX believes our calls center and contact tracing platform can help reduce agent requirements.” Those sentences were redacted from the version released to Hearst Newspapers. DSHS spokesman Chris Van Deusen said the agency allowed MTX to decide what could be released for now from their proposal.