The state of Florida has now stopped its medical examiners from releasing numbers about people who have died from COVID-19.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that Florida’s state health department intervened earlier this month to suppress the medical examiners’ reports, which regularly showed death totals that were 10 percent higher than the official tallies put out by the state.
For the past nine days, no reports from the medical examiners have been made available to the public, and there’s no indication of when they will be released in the future.
Dr. Stephen Nelson, the chairman of the state Medical Examiners Commission, tells the Tampa Bay Times that state officials have told him they’re planning to remove probable causes of death from the examiners’ report, which would make it impossible to tell how many people the examiners believe have died from coronavirus.
“This is no different than any other public record we deal with,” Nelson said. “It’s paid for by taxpayer dollars and the taxpayers have a right to know.”
The Tampa Bay Times also notes the Florida state government has shown a pattern of suppressing information about the disease.
“Last month, it tried to persuade the medical examiner’s office in Miami-Dade County to restrict access to its death records, according to the Miami Herald and correspondence between the two agencies obtained by the Times,” the paper writes.