State Watch

Daily reported coronavirus deaths dropped in Florida ahead of election: report

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The number of daily reported coronavirus deaths dropped in Florida ahead of the 2020 presidential election, according to an investigation from the Sun Sentinel reported Tuesday.

The newspaper found that the number of daily coronavirus deaths during early voting and on Election Day were lower than they would have been around that time.

The change in the death toll occurred after the state said on Oct. 21 it would review every suspected COVID-19 death before adding it to the count out of concerns about the numbers being inflated, according to the newspaper.

Three days later, the state’s daily tally stopped including deaths that occurred more than one month earlier. The newspaper notes that these deaths can take days and weeks to make it to state health departments.

The state did not include these deaths in its daily counts on Oct. 24, 10 days before the election, and resumed including them two weeks after the election on Nov. 17.

The newspaper noted that the intent behind manipulating the data is unclear, and a spokesperson for the Florida Health Department declined to answer questions from the Sun Sentinel.

The department didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill. 

The report comes as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) handling of the coronavirus pandemic has come under scrutiny from local press.

The Sun Sentinel previously reported that health officials in the state were told not to speak about COVID-19 until after the election.

And a new controversy emerged this week after Florida police raided the home of Rebekah Jones, who built the state’s coronavirus data dashboard, and confiscated computer equipment. Jones says she was fired in May for refusing to manipulate the state’s coronavirus data.

Jones is accused of hacking the health department’s messaging system and sending a text message warning employees to “speak out before its too late.” She has denied the accusation.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Florida Ron DeSantis
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