Debunking Claims Of Florida’s Alleged “Fixing” Of COVID-19 Data

Old Fashioned Pinocchio News Boy Holding Fake Newspaper

Photo: Getty Images

From Nikki Fried to her allies and friends in state and national news media, one of the many narratives recently advanced is that Florida’s manipulating COVID-19 data. Especially deaths. The attempts aren’t new. Anytime the state’s altered data reporting those seeking political outcomes have alleged Governor DeSantis is engaged in nefarious cover-ups. The attempts haven’t been exclusive to data reporting either. The most slanderous and quickly debunked claim pertained to Nikki Fried’s false claims of pay-for-play vaccines early in the rollout. Not only did local and state media gleefully report the false narrative, but 60 Minutes even produced a disgraced episode on it.

Undeterred by slanderous and false reporting, the Fried Show & Friends fiasco continues. So, what changed? Better information with more accurate reporting. Yeah, kind of the opposite of much of the reporting isn’t it? How bad has the reporting been? Well, the Miami Herald’s Tuesday story entitled, Florida changed its COVID-19 data, creating an artificial decline in recent deaths, is debunked on the Florida Department of Health’s homepage. That’s what it’s come to.

In the section Myth vs. Facts is this breakdown: Myth: Florida changed its COVID-19 data, creating an ‘artificial decline’ in recent deaths”. Fact: This is completely incorrect and misleads the public. Florida reports COVID-19 deaths by date of death for precision, accuracy, and transparency in public communications. As stated in the article itself from an epidemiologist: “Deaths by date of death curve is the most accurate you can get,” Salemi said. “You know exactly when people died, you know how to construct the curve and exactly when we were experiencing surges in terms of deaths.”

Updating already provisional data does not create an “artificial decline,” nor does it distort the data. These are the deaths as they occurred by date. The fact that these data are provisional makes clear by both DOH reports and the data displayed by the CDC. This ensures that the most accurate data are provided to the public. As the Miami Herald article reported, many other states report COVID-19 deaths the same way Florida does.

This month, the Department worked to develop a procedural improvement with CDC to ensure the most accurate data is consistently provided to the public. The Department has reported deaths by date of death to the CDC since March. This information comes from numerous sources, including labs, medical examiners, hospitals, and physicians. All deaths are required to be filed with the Department’s Bureau of Vital Statistics to ensure verification and accuracy. This reporting process is epidemiologically sound and is not unique to COVID-19.

Details, right? This is what we’re up against informationally a year and a half into the pandemic. It’s a reminder to consider the source when it comes to information. As the more responsible Wall Street Journal reported, There’s No Mystery in Florida’s Covid Reporting. There’s also no mystery in who you can trust for the truth. There just happen to be fewer of us. 

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