Florida Government Decides To Fire Its Data Chief Rather Than Be Honest About Its COVID Numbers
from the 'we've-found-a-cure-that's-worse-than-the-disease!' dept
We were promised no more deaths by May 15th, but that hasn’t happened. With no one 100% sure what the best options are going forward, this is how states are handling the task of (lol) cautiously “reopening.” A long press conference held by the Trump administration said states could reopen if they hit a number of checkpoints, including a certain amount of testing and a plateau/drop in positive cases.
A number of states appear to have stopped listening after the word “reopen.” Whether or not they’ve hit the CDC’s checkpoints does not appear to matter. A collective shrug about deaths and infections was issued by a number of governors, some of whom are (justifiably) tired of gun-toting residents showing up at the state house to protest their lack of access to haircuts and house parties.
When the data doesn’t match the narrative, there’s only one thing to do: fuck up the data. And the person who’s compiling it. Florida has lots of sunny beaches that are currently too empty to satisfy sun junkies who wish to take advantage of the lengthy shorelines contained in America’s Penis. COVID stats weren’t exactly lending themselves to the “it’s fine” narrative the governor wanted to push. So, the state government did some pushing of its own.
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.
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.”
The means of impartial COVID stat reporting have been seized. Power to the (powerful) people! The dashboard that used to provide an easy-to-understand breakdown of the state’s infection and death rates is being replaced with something that aligns more closely with the aura of sunny healthiness the state government wants to project. Dance through the droplets or whatever. Want to check the state’s new math? Well, you can fuck right off, apparently.
When [researchers] tried requesting the previously available underlying data, DOH officials said that because the data are “provisional” no such requests would be considered until May 2021.
Yet the state regularly publishes provisional data, including for infectious diseases such as influenza.
Here’s the governor’s literally unbelievable defense of his indefensible actions: when someone asks for time off, they’re clearly asking to be fired and for their work to be destroyed.
When first asked about Jones’ dismissal, [Governor Ron] DeSantis on Monday called it a “nonissue.” He said he understood from an email she sent her supervisor that “she was tired and needed a break.”
He then went on to claim — after being given a few days to compose his thoughts — that this firing was due to “repeated insubordination” rather than the researcher just being tired. “Insuboridination” apparently means publishing actual COVID stats rather than manipulated data that provides post hoc justification for the state government’s reopening plans.
The state is now open. Whether or not that’s good for residents and visitors remains to be seen. The state has taken control of a narrative. Since the real numbers aren’t aligned with the state’s official OPEN FOR BUSINESS pitch, the state apparently felt its only option was to fire the person compiling the data.
Now, residents and visitors will have only the state-approved numbers to rely on. Let’s hope they don’t. If this turns into another pandemic nightmare that the state could have avoided by being honest, citizens are going to start wondering why government entities are immunized against manslaughter charges. And those who demanded at gunpoint that the government take the brakes off the state economy are welcome to discover firsthand why an overabundance of caution is preferable to caution that’s been carried off by the wind.
This is a state that has decided to lie to everyone, starting with itself. Govern yourself accordingly.