The Florida Division of Well being will not replace its Covid-19 dashboard and can droop every day case and vaccine stories, the governor’s workplace confirmed on Friday. Officers will as a substitute publish weekly updates, turning into the primary U.S. state to maneuver to such an rare publishing schedule.
Officers first introduced final week that the state would finish every day stories in a information launch outlining Florida’s plans to transition into the subsequent section of its Covid-19 response now that instances within the state are lowering. Final month, Florida closed its state-run testing websites however gave counties the choice of taking them over.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, instructed The Information Service of Florida on Friday that there isn’t any have to hold issuing the every day stories.
“Covid-19 instances have considerably decreased over the previous 12 months as we’ve got a lower than 5 p.c positivity price, and our state is returning to regular, with vaccines broadly out there all through Florida,” Pushaw stated in an e mail to reporters.
Prior to now two weeks, Florida has seen a 43 p.c drop in coronavirus instances and deaths, and 50 p.c of the inhabitants has obtained no less than one vaccine dose, just under the nationwide common of 51 p.c, in line with a New York Instances database.
Florida’s dashboard was created partially by Rebekah D. Jones, a state information scientist who was fired for insubordination in Could 2020, a battle that she stated got here to a head when she refused to govern information to point out that rural counties have been able to reopen from coronavirus lockdowns. The info actually confirmed that the virus was quickly spreading in a state that was hesitant to mandate broad restrictions and desirous to reopen.
Ms. Jones’s firing grew to become a flash level as Mr. DeSantis, a detailed ally of then-President Donald J. Trump, touted Florida’s early success in battling the virus — a victory lap that turned out to be untimely on the time and led to a disastrous summer time. State officers insisted that her claims about hiding virus information have been false. She was dismissed, they stated, as a result of she made unilateral selections to switch the virus dashboard with out approval.
After Ms. Jones was fired, she made her personal database utilizing public virus case data from the Florida Division of Well being that had been buried deep in PDF recordsdata on the state web site.
In December, state police brokers with weapons drawn raided Ms. Jones’s residence in Tallahassee to execute a search warrant in a legal investigation, after police stated a breach on the Florida Division of Well being was traced to her laptop. She denied having something to do with the breach.
Ms. Jones’s dashboard usually reveals a better variety of instances than the quantity reported by the state. It additionally consists of data from different companies, equivalent to hospitalization charges from the Company for Well being Care Administration, that aren’t on the state dashboard.
However after the state introduced that it might not replace its public data, Ms. Jones wrote on her database that she wouldn’t have the ability to replace her dashboard both.
“No extra information,” she wrote. “Solely abstract stories in PDF format. Please be affected person as I work to reformat the web site to regulate for these modifications.”