Rebekah Jones alleged Florida was undercounting the number of COVID-19 cases, so she started her own portal.
Florida’s Community Coronavirus Dashboard/Rebekah Jones, Florida’s COVID-19 Data/Florida Department of Health
Rebekah Jones, the Florida woman who operated the state’s COVID-19 data portal who was fired in May by the state Department of Health, launched her own portal with data about Florida COVID-19 cases, The Washington Post reported.
Jones’ new portal — Florida’s Community Coronavirus Dashboard — pulls data from the Florida Health Department as well as state hospitals and an organization that locates COVID-19 testing facilities, according to the report.
Jones was fired from the Florida Health Department after she alleges she refused to resign after she said she was asked to modify data to make certain regions appear like they had met requirements to reopen.
On Saturday, Florida reported 2,581 new COVID-19 cases within the previous 24 hours — an all-time high.
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Rebekah Jones, the 30-year-old woman who was fired from the Florida Department of Health after she said she was asked and refused to modify the state’s COVID-19 data, launched her own personal data portal for the state on Thursday, The Washington Post reported.
Her website, titled Florida’s Community Cornavirus Dashboard, was launched Thursday. The portal relies on data from the FDOH, Jones told The Washington Post, though she said it aggregates the data and portrays it in a way that appropriately contextualizes it.
Additionally, Jones said her portal also pulls data from state hospitals and an organization that maps COVID-19 testing locations.
“I wanted to build an application that delivered data and helped people get tested and helped them get resources that they need from their community,” she told The Washington Post. “And that’s what I ended up building with this new dashboard.”
According to the report, Jones alleges that her managers at the FDOH requested she delete data that showed Florida residents had tested positive for COVID-19 as early as January, which is seemingly odds with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ March claims there had been no reported community spread in Florida.
Jones said she was asked to alter data to make it appear that certain counties, which had not yet met needed federal criteria, were ready to begin the process of reopening closed businesses and institutions.
Jones said the Florida website undercounts the infection total and overcounts the number of people who have been tested, according to the report on Saturday. The Florida Department of Health did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment on Saturday.
Helen Aguirre Ferré, the communications director for DeSantis previously told Business Insider that Jones was fired for “repeated course of insubordination” and her “blatant disrespect for the professionals who were working around the clock to provide the important information for the COVID-19 website.”
A spokesman told The Washington Post on Saturday that the January dates Jones mentioned could represent when someone came into contact with a COVID-19-positive person or when the person visited the place they may have contracted the novel coronavirus.
“Epidemiologists collect information that informs the Department of Health of an individual’s symptoms, contacts, and location of where they may have acquired COVID-19,” the spokesperson told The Washington Post. “The first date of entry in answer to any question, COVID-related or not, is designated the event date.”
Jones said the state tally of the number of COVID-19 tests administered is inflated because it represents the number of samples that have been taken and not the number of individuals who have been tested. A total of 1,371,401 people have been tested, according to the state’s portal. About 300,000 fewer people — 1,078,088 — have been tested in Florida, according to Jones’ calculation.
According to Jones’ portal, 81,269 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida since the beginning of March. The official portal reports 73,552 have been so far infected by the virus. Jones told The Washington Post her portal accounts for positive antibody tests, whereas the state portal only counts people who test positive for the virus at the time they are tested.
On Friday, DeSantis attributed the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths to agricultural workers in the state, though as local10 reported, it’s unlikely that farmworkers and the state’s prison population are to blame for the entirety of the 1,902 new cases on Friday — the single most of any day so far in Florida until Saturday.
On Saturday, the state reported 2,581 new cases and 48 new deaths since Friday, according to the Miami Herald.
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