The Florida Division of Well being will now not replace its Covid-19 dashboard and can droop every day case and vaccine experiences, the governor’s workplace confirmed on Friday. Officers will as an alternative publish weekly updates, changing 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 experiences 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 reducing. 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 a must preserve issuing the every day experiences.
“Covid-19 instances have considerably decreased over the previous 12 months as we’ve got a lower than 5 p.c positivity charge, and our state is returning to regular, with vaccines extensively obtainable all through Florida,” Pushaw mentioned in an e mail to reporters.
Up 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 at the least one vaccine dose, slightly below the nationwide common of 51 p.c, according to a New York Times database.
Florida’s dashboard was created partly by Rebekah D. Jones, a state information scientist who was fired for insubordination in Could 2020, a battle that she mentioned got here to a head when she refused to control information to point out that rural counties had been able to reopen from coronavirus lockdowns. The info the truth is 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. State officers insisted that her claims about hiding virus information had been false. She was dismissed, they mentioned, as a result of she made unilateral selections to change the virus dashboard with out approval.
After Ms. Jones was fired, she made her own database utilizing public virus case data from the Florida Division of Well being that had been buried deep in PDF information 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 prison investigation, after police mentioned 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 typically exhibits a better variety of instances than the quantity reported by the state. It additionally consists of info from different companies, similar 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 now not replace its public data, Ms. Jones wrote on her database that she wouldn’t be capable of replace her dashboard both.
“No extra information,” she wrote. “Solely abstract experiences in PDF format. Please be affected person as I work to reformat the web site to regulate for these modifications.”