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Florida firing the architect of its COVID-19 dashboard reflects Red State data manipulation

Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

A few places have already reported on Florida’s firing in late May of Rebekah Jones (@GeoRebekah), a scientist at the Florida Department of Health and the architect of Florida’s online COVID-19 dashboard. But her story needs amplification because it’s indicative of the data manipulation that’s happening in red states everywhere, and it all adds up to a gross, and possibly even criminal abuse of power — less for her firing than the reasons for it and what they’ve done since she left.

Florida fired Jones and immediately put a cap on the data that the dashboard (similar to Johns Hopkins national/int’l dashboard), claiming that the underlying data was “provisional” and won’t be available until May 2021.

DeSantis said that Jones had claimed to have been “tired and needed a break” as the reason for her dismissal. But days later, DeSantis claimed that Jones was fired for “repeated insubordination.”


Jones claimed that she was asked to manipulate the data to mislead the public with respect to the reopening of rural counties. She also claimed that Florida changed the formula for calculating COVID-19 positivity rate to better align with what DeSantis was saying publicly.

Scott Pritchard, a FL official at DOH, told Jones in an email that “[t]he whole site needs to come down. It literally has all the data files.”

Out of a job and on her own, Jones then recreated the dashboard. But the reason I’m posting about Jones right now is to bring attention to her words from yesterday about Florida’s ongoing war against numbers and reality:

BREAKING: 1 OF 3: Florida announced yesterday they’re not counting the ICU bed availability anymore, a key element in keeping things open, so the state can proceed to the next phase by July 4.

BREAKING 2 OF 3 I have multiple sources at DOH who have just told me they have been instructed this week to change the numbers and begin slowly deleting deaths and cases so it looks like Florida is improving next week in the leadup to July 4, like they’ve “made it over the hump.”

BREAKING 3 OF 3 I’ve independently verified they’ve deleted at least 1,200 cases in the last week.They’re only reporting all these cases now so they can restrict reporting next week to make everyone think it’s over. I’ve had two DOH employees in different offices confirm.

Also, regarding this story: Prosecutor to tell Congress of pressure from ‘highest levels’ of Justice Dept. to cut Roger Stone ‘a break’

Two US prosecutors will testify today to the unprecedented politicization of the DOJ under Bill Barr. Aaron Zelinsky’s prepared remarks are thoroughly damning, recounting mostly Barr’s interference with respect to the Roger Stone sentencing; how his superiors told him in no uncertain terms to go easy on Stone due to his connection to the president.

Another federal prosecutor, John Elias, will testify that Barr ordered the investigation of ten marijuana company mergers not because of any suspected antitrust issue but because Barr doesn’t like marijuana.

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