Fired Florida scientist goes rogue, publishes her own COVID-19 data with grimmer outlook than the state's
Florida's top coronavirus data scientist has launched her own COVID-19 dashboard to rival the state's after the Health Department fired her last month. Rebekah Jones claims that she was removed from her post over her refusal to "manipulate" data, and her new website shares "far more COVID-19 information than she said the state allowed her to report as an employee, including statistics contradicting Florida's official coronavirus numbers and the push to reopen the state," The Palm Beach Post reports.
"We weren't allowed to really draw attention to deaths, which is why I added hospitalizations and deaths, which use something we buried in a PDF but never showed on our dashboard," Jones told the Post. "So people can bring the humanity aspect of this to the forefront."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R) claims Jones was fired for refusing to "listen to the people who were her superiors." Either way, her numbers are starkly different than what is being reported by the Florida Health Department. "On Friday, Jones' website counted 75,897 people with coronavirus infections in Florida," reports The Washington Post, "while the state site tallied 70,971." Additionally, Jones' website claims the Health Department has tested about 30 percent fewer people than the 1.3 million it claims to have screened. "If Florida is indeed misreporting how many people have been tested, it makes the health situation in Florida look better than it is," The Palm Beach Post notes.
The Washington Post explains that Jones' positive tests are higher in part because her total also includes people who've tested positive for antibodies, which are the factor that indicate that the virus has been in a person's system. Antibody testing, however, can have more false positive results than regular virus tests. Visit Jones' dashboard here, and compare with the state's here.