Courtesy of Florida Today:

Late last Friday, the architect and manager of Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard — praised by White House officials for its accessibility — announced that she had been removed from her post, causing outcry from independent researchers now worried about government censorship.

The dashboard has been a one-stop shop for researchers, the media and the public to access and download tables of COVID-19 cases, testing and death data to analyze freely. It had been widely hailed as a shining example of transparency and accessibility.

But over the last few weeks it had “crashed” and gone offline; data has gone missing without explanation and access to the underlying data sheets has become increasingly difficult.

The site was created by a team of Florida Department of Health data scientists and public health officers headed by Rebekah Jones. She announced last week her removal as of May 5 in a heartfelt farewell note emailed to researchers and other members of the public who had signed up to receive updates on the data portal.

Citing “reasons beyond my division’s control,” Jones said her office is no longer managing the dashboard, is no longer involved in publication, fixing errors or answering questions “in any shape or form.”

She warned that she does not know what the new team’s intentions are for data access, including “what data they are now restricting.”

This reporting now joins other news articles talking about red states trying to fudge their Coronavirus numbers in order to justify moves to reopen their economies and lift stay at home orders. 

The policy seems to be that if the numbers do not support a decision that they want to make then those numbers need to be suppressed.

Without access to up to the minute data that may mean people in these states will have to learn about the Coronavirus the hard way, like Florida resident Brian Hitchens and his wife.

Courtesy of the New York Post

A Florida man who initially believed the coronavirus was a “fake crisis” that was “blown out of proportion” is now hospitalized along with his wife — and is sounding a cautionary note about the deadly bug.

“I thought it was maybe the government trying something, and it was kind of like they threw it out there to kinda distract us,” Brian Hitchens told WPTV from his hospital bed.

“I’d get up in the morning and pray and trust in God for his protection, and I’d just leave it at that. There were all these masks and gloves. I thought it looks like a hysteria,” he added.

Hitchens and his wife both came down with the virus, and while he managed to get passed it in a few days, she is now sedated and attached to a ventilator.

Hitchens has very little hope that she will survive and wants people to know that he was wrong and would do it all differently if given the chance. 

That is a lesson that nobody should have to learn the hard way.