Florida Governor Under Fire Over State Claims Is ‘Cooking The Books’ At Covid-19 | United States News

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s hesitant response to the rise in new numbers of coronaviruses in his state is becoming an indictment, following an accusation that his administration is “cooking the books” in an effort to hide the true impact of the devastating pandemic.

The state’s former leader Covid-19 data scientist’s claim comes as Florida records a second consecutive day of new cases of the disease above 5,000, the highest numbers since the pandemic began.

The situation in Florida is part of a widespread increase in infections in large areas of the United States, especially in states, often led by Republicans, who have rushed to reopen their economies.

So far this month, Florida has seen confirmed cases more than double from 56,000 to more than 114,000, and set daily records in seven of the past 13 days. Meanwhile, the number of deaths among Florida residents has increased to almost 3,400.

Rebekah Jones, who says she was fired from her job in charge of the state’s official Covid-19 database in May for refusing to manipulate her numbers, said on social media that she has evidence that employees of the health department of Florida “have received instructions this week.” to change the numbers and slowly begin eliminating deaths and cases to make it look like Florida is improving the next week before July 4, as if they have “pushed the limit.”

“Now they are only reporting all of these cases, so they can restrict reporting next week for everyone to think it’s over,” he said.

DeSantis, a Donald Trump loyalist who has refused to delay the reopening of Florida or implement a statewide mask mandate, angrily rejected the claim, calling a Miami Herald reporter who asked him for “shameful.”

“You guys have been in the conspiracy car for months,” he blurted out at a press conference Thursday, without addressing the details of Jones’ claim. “Yo have to go ahead.”

From any point of view, it has been a difficult week for DeSantis, which stands firm in the face of mounting pressure from public health officials and even some political allies to take stricter measures to counter the strong resurgence of the virus in its state, with its large population of vulnerable retired seniors. .

A month after reprimanding reporters to whom she “poetically waxed for weeks and weeks about how Florida was going to be like New York,” that scenario has come true, with New York joining New Jersey and Connecticut this week. to order Florida visitors: among other severely affected states: quarantine.

Beach lovers enjoy the warm weather in Florida on Wednesday.

Beach lovers enjoy the warm weather in Florida on Wednesday. Photography: Cristóbal Herrera / EPA

Florida hospital systems report sharp drops in the availability of intensive care and other beds, even as the health department changes the way it records those numbers.

Perhaps more hurtful are the veiled criticism of Republican-elects.

While DeSantis is resisting calls for a state mask mandate, municipalities, including Miami, have enacted the requirement; Miami Mayor Francis Suarez proposes fines of $ 250 for those who refuse.

Suarez has also debunked DeSantis’s often-repeated claim that increased evidence explains the increase in Florida’s coronavirus. “It really has nothing to do with more evidence. It has to do with more people being tested positive, ”he said.

In Miami-Dade County this week, the examinee’s positivity rate reached 27 percent, nearly three times higher than the county’s 14-day average target of 10 percent.

The mask issue has turned into a political battle in Florida, with Palm Beach County approving a mandate in the face of furious resistance from some residents, one of whom stated at an extraordinary meeting of the commission this week that the measure ” it would throw God’s wonderful breathing system in the door. “

Even Marco Rubio, the US Republican senator from Florida, intervened. “Everyone should wear a damn mask,” he said.

But DeSantis, like the president, has declined to advocate wearing masks, despite incontrovertible scientific evidence that they help reduce the spread of the disease.

“Ron DeSantis has followed Donald Trump’s erratic leadership for three and a half months, and it clearly has not worked for Floridians,” said Terrie Rizzo, president of the Florida Democratic party. “Her eagerness to declare victory before the job was done has brought us to this moment.”

Meanwhile, data scientist Jones remains one of the largest thorns on the governor’s side. After her dismissal, for “insubordination” according to DeSantis staff, the geospatial science graduate created her own privately funded rival Covid-19 database for Florida.

According to official state figures, Jones’ platform expands them into several key areas, notably more cases and deaths. Those numbers are higher, he says, because Florida only reports statistics for residents, and does not include visitors from other states.

Additionally, Jones’ database presents statistics that the state’s site does not have, including the number of ICU beds available across Florida and whether any of its 67 counties meet current state criteria for reopening. As of Thursday, only three did.

The Florida department of health did not respond to a request by The Guardian for comment on Jones’ allegations of data deletion, or discrepancies between its database and state figures.

Public health experts say accurate data is essential to respond to the pandemic.

“That information clearly indicates that we have a problem. Test data, symptom data, hospitalization data – everything has clearly increased, ”said Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, professor and chair of the epidemiology department at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health at the International University of Florida.