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NNDSS Supports the COVID-19 Response


The National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) is supporting our nation’s response to the unprecedented threat of COVID-19. Along with our partners in state public health departments and disease programs at CDC, our team is working to ensure that data about cases of COVID-19 across the nation are received, processed, and sent to the disease experts at CDC. These experts are using the information to better understand, track, and respond to the pandemic and improve national surveillance.

Here are some of the things NNDSS is doing behind the scenes to provide comprehensive, timely, and high-quality data for public health decision making:

  • We added a new event code for COVID-19 in January 2020 for state public health departments’ use when notifying CDC of cases of COVID-19. Each disease or condition reported to NNDSS is assigned an event code. Event codes are used by local, state, and federal surveillance information systems to help simplify storage and retrieval of information about cases of nationally notifiable or state reportable diseases or conditions.
  • We updated our Message Validation, Processing, and Provisioning System, or MVPS, so that it is able to receive data about COVID-19 cases from state public health departments.
  • We provide technical assistance through our partner, the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), to help state public health departments send their COVID-19 data to CDC.
  • We send these critical data to disease experts at CDC and to the CDC Emergency Operations Center daily for use in the CDC COVID-19 national response and surveillance.

In addition, we are working with our partner, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), to ensure that state public health departments have the information they need to define cases of COVID-19. CSTE has recently approved a case definition for COVID-19, which NNDSS will post to our case definition database as a reference for all jurisdictions. A case definition is a set of uniform criteria used to define a disease for public health surveillance and reporting purposes and helps public health classify and count cases consistently across reporting jurisdictions.

In support of the CDC Public Health Data Modernization Initiative, NNDSS will continue to look for ways to modernize our tools, technology, and strategy and to improve the quality and timeliness of the data we receive and provide. Modernization of public health data and IT systems is central to the nation’s efforts to respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic—and for the responses to come.