NBS Supported the COVID-19 Response

At a glance

For more than a decade, the NEDSS Base System (NBS) has provided a full-service disease surveillance system that local, state, and territorial health departments can implement and customize to meet their needs. Currently, 25 health departments—including 20 states, and 5 U.S. territories—use NBS for disease surveillance. NBS not only makes surveillance, investigation, and reporting of communicable diseases more efficient but also helps health departments comply with national standards for data storage, management, and transmission. As part of CDC's pandemic response, the NBS support team enhanced the system to assist health departments in their COVID-19 response.


As an initial response, the NBS team—

  • Provided health departments with a template to collect data requested by the CDC programs supporting the COVID-19 response.
  • Provided health departments with technical resources to integrate the new standard COVID-19 codes from Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) and Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED) into their NBS systems and to incorporate updates as they become available.

In addition, the NBS team—

  • Provided a process that made it easier and faster for health departments to extract, view, and analyze their COVID-19 case data and laboratory findings.
  • Collaborated with Tennessee public health practitioners to create decision-support algorithms that process incoming electronic laboratory reports. This automation makes data available more quickly and flags findings requiring special attention.
  • Collaborated with CDC's Epi Info team to develop a dashboard showing key statistics (e.g., total cases, cases by age/sex, percent of cases with different symptoms) to support monitoring.
  • Provided a process for health departments to extract detailed COVID-19 epidemiologic data from NBS in a format that could be loaded directly into the CDC COVID-19 case-tracking database. This saved health departments time and allowed them to share epidemiologic data with CDC more quickly and easily.
  • Provided a tool for health departments to create a CDC-requested daily report summarizing how many SARS-COV-2 laboratory tests were reported to public health, how many tests were positive and negative, and the percent positive.
  • Collaborated with our partner, the Association of Public Health Laboratories, on a tool for health departments to produce detailed de-identified information on each COVID-19 laboratory test reported to public health.
  • Collaborated with state partners to identify gaps in the electronic case report (eCR) import functionality in NBS and updated the system to accept and process eCRs for COVID-19.

In addition to adding functionality, the NBS team provided extensive support to the 25 health departments that use NBS. The team assisted with implementation of the new tools and troubleshot issues the health departments encountered while using the system for the COVID-19 response.