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Florida COVID-19 Website Guru Blasts Bosses, Hints At Data Suppression

“WASHINGTON — The state official managing Florida’s public “dashboard” of COVID-19 data says that her office has been removed from the project — and questioned the Department of Health’s commitment to “accessibility and transparency.”

Rebekah Jones, the geographic information system manager for DOH’s Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, wrote in an email, distributed Friday that authority over the dashboard was taken away from her office on May 5. The sharply worded email, which was shared with the Herald by a recipient of the message, was addressed to users of the state’s data portal, which includes researchers and journalists. It was not clear who replaced her and her staff.

“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,” wrote Jones, who holds a Ph.D. in geography from Florida State University. “After all, my commitment to both is largely [arguably entirely] the reason I am no longer managing it.””

Ben Wieder reports for McClatchy May 18, 2020.