Story at a glance
- The scientist who created the state’s COVID-19 dashboard said she was fired from her position as Geographic Information Systems manager for the Florida Department of Health.
- Jones announced her departure in an email to colleagues and members of the public who enrolled to receive updates on the portal last week, citing reasons beyond her division’s control.
- The Florida Department of Health has not responded to the claim.
The architect and manager of Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard says she was removed from her role because she refused to manually change data in a way to support the state’s plan to reopen, according to CBS12 News.
Rebekah Jones, who headed the Florida Department of Health team that ran the digital dashboard, was removed from her position as manager of the interactive site on May 5, Florida Today first reported. The outlet also reported Tuesday she was fired from her job as Geographic Information Systems manager for the Florida Department of Health.
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In an email to CBS12 reported Monday, Jones said her removal was not voluntary and she was ousted from her position because she was ordered to censor some data, but refused to “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.”
Jones announced her departure in an email to colleagues and members of the public who enrolled to receive updates on the portal last week, citing reasons beyond her division’s control.
She said her office was no longer involved in managing the dashboard. This is prompting some researchers to question why the architect behind the dashboard praised by experts — including White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx — would be removed, according to Florida Today.
“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,” Jones wrote to colleagues and those who followed the database. “After all, my commitment to both is largely (arguably entirely) the reason I am no longer managing it.”
The dashboard over the past few weeks, however, had crashed, gone offline and data has disappeared with no explanation or was difficult to access, according to Florida Today.
Jones told CBS12 News since she was ousted the dashboard has yet to be fully repaired.
The Florida Department of Health did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
On Monday, Florida allowed restaurants, retail and select businesses, such as gyms, barbershops and nail salons, to reopen at 50 percent capacity with several measures in place.
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