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Artist's impression of data

In the earlier days of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of the country’s public health departments, still reliant on fax machines, were woefully unprepared for the massive amounts of data they needed to process. Looking for a tidy private sector solution to a messy government problem, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) paid a shadowy Silicon Valley company with ties to the Trump administration to build something new. That company is called Palantir Technologies, and if you don’t know much about it, that’s by design.

Palantir specializes in data-gathering and analysis, most of which it does for government agencies. It has about $1.5 billion in federal government contracts alone, including, recently, with the Space Force and the Navy. Now, as new Covid-19 case numbers break records daily, Palantir is trying to help organize the information with a new platform called HHS Protect, which will be run by another private company called TeleTracking. This partnership has effectively replaced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network, per the Trump administration’s orders to hospitals... see more