Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis snapped at reporters when he was asked whether his administration was “cooking the books” on coronavirus deaths.
Rebekah Jones, who says she was fired after creating the state's COVID-19 database after refusing to manipulated statistics, claimed on Twitter that her former colleagues had been instructed to start "slowly deleting deaths and cases" to make it look like Florida had "made it over the hump," reported The Guardian.
BREAKING 3 OF 3 I've independently verified they've deleted at least 1200 cases in the last week.They're only repor… https://t.co/Nw4k1kwUX2— Rebekah Jones, MS, GISP (@Rebekah Jones, MS, GISP)1592947322.0
The state has been setting records for new cases every day, logging nearly 9,000 new cases and 13 percent positive cases on a day of record testing.
“They’re only reporting all these cases now so they can restrict reporting next week to make everyone think it’s over,” Jones said Tuesday.
She pointed out to WPEC-TV that the state does not count non-resident deaths when it reports coronavirus fatalities, while her database did.
"I do not separate those," Jones said. "I feel like communities don't really care what your state legal address is. If you were sick here, you died here, you died in a Florida hospital, you were going to the Florida grocery stores. That's what they care about."
DeSantis snapped at reporters when asked Thursday about Jones' allegations.
“You guys have been on the conspiracy bandwagon for months,” DeSantis said. “You need to move on. You really do. It's embarrassing at this point."
DeSantis has faced months of criticism for not issuing statewide shutdown orders or mandating mask usage, and Florida's outbreak is now spiraling out of control -- and Jones claims the administration is concealing important health data like the number of intensive care unit beds were being used.
"If we don't have any actual real grounding in how many ICU beds we have available in any given place," Jones said, "we have no idea what our capacity is in our health care system to absorb an influx of very sick people."
Jones said the Department of Health is planning to slow down the reporting of new cases next week to create a "bottleneck" and make it look like Florida is improving, so tourists will visit over the holiday weekend.
"The context that was added by an employee is that they are letting the number of real cases flow this week so that next week they can start to reduce the number of cases and make it look like Florida is over the hump, that we have hit the worst of it, it's all downhill from here," Jones told WPEC. "Come to Florida, celebrate July 4th weekend at whatever event or beach you want to vacation at and come one, come all. That is a very serious allegation, though for me at this point, not very shocking."