Fired Florida scientist launches rival COVID-19 dashboard
'People have a right to know what’s going on,' she said.
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A scientist who helped design Florida's COVID-19 tracking dashboard and who was eventually fired by the state for alleged insubordination has launched her own rival coronavirus tracking website, one that she says more accurately displays the pandemic's progress through the Sunshine State.
Rebekah Jones was fired from her position at the state's health department last month over what the state said was protocol violation. Jones had been speaking to media and making public remarks about the state's official COVID-19 tracking efforts, including claims that she was being pressured to manipulate that data.
Now Jones has launched a rival coronavirus dashboard, one that she told the Palm Beach Post offers state residents COVID-19 information "in a straightforward nonpolitical kind of way."
Jones's "Community Coronavirus Dashboard" offers moderately higher case numbers than the official Florida page: on Saturday Jones estimated a little over 81,000 cumulative cases in the state since March, while Florida said it was around 73,000. The scientist told the Post she was incorporating into the total case count those in the state who test positive for COVID-19 antibodies; the state only tallies active infections in its ongoing case count.
Jones also records slightly higher COVID-19 deaths than does the state—3,016 versus 2,925 on Saturday afternoon—a number she arrived at by including the deaths of non-residents who caught the disease there.
Jones said her website tallies tests differently than the state, counting the total number of people tested rather than the total number of tests administered. She told the Post that the way Florida tracks testing numbers makes it seem like a lower percentage of residents are testing positive for the disease.
Jones's website also features hospitalization and death rates throughout the state, something she said "bring[s] the humanity aspect of this to the forefront."