The Grapevine

Florida’s Coronavirus Data Manager Removed From Post After Refusing To Manipulate Data

According to the claim of a Florida coronavirus dashboard architect and manager, she has been removed from her post recently because she refused to manipulate the COVID-19 data that they have.

COVID-19 Dashboard Manager Refuses To Manipulate Data, Gets Fired

Acting as a valuable resource for reporters, researchers and the general public for anything and everything about COVID-19 (such as the number of cases, testing and deaths), the coronavirus dashboard has been widely acclaimed and has garnered praise for both its easy accessibility and transparency.

Unfortunately, in recent weeks, the website has either gone offline or crashed, with most of its data disappearing without any explanation. And on May 5, Rebekah Jones, who acts as manager and director for a team of Florida Department of Health data scientists and public health officers that help with the site, announced her removal from her post.

As for the reason why, Jones confirmed that it was because she refused to manipulate the dashboard’s data in order to “drum up support for the plan to reopen.”

“I understand, appreciate, and even share your concern about all the dramatic changes that have occurred and those that are yet to come. As a word of caution, I would not expect the new team to continue the same level of accessibility and transparency that I made central to the process during the first two months. After all, my commitment to both is largely (arguably entirely) the reason I am no longer managing it,” Jones said recently.

Unfortunately, the state’s Department of Health declined to comment, even though researchers saw the incident as an example of government censorship.

Since Jones has been removed, data access on the dashboard has worsened, with people worrying that it will become less available as time passes by.

“We would not accept this lack of transparency for any other natural disaster, so why are we willing to accept it here?” Jennifer Larsen, a researcher at the University of Central Florida’s LabX, said.

“They are pretending that public health is what has damaged (the) economy,” Asal Johnson, an assistant professor of Public Health at Stetson University, said. 

Coronavirus & COVID-19 An artist's representation of the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. Pixabay

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