Politics Monday: A COVID Miracle in Florida, or is DeSantis Cooking the Books?

Tracking the numbers has kept me grounded

I am artsy by nature but a bean-counter by trade, having made a career in the New York state budget office. One of the ways I’ve dealt with the coronavirus pandemic is by tracking the daily numbers of cases, deaths, and (when these miracles emerged) vaccinations in arms. My source was my local daily newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, and their source was the Florida Department of Health.

Florida stopped daily reporting

I say “was” because I’m no longer touching the daily numbers. Friday, May 28 was the last daily coronavirus newspaper article. When it reappeared after Memorial Day, reporter Jane Musgrave explained that the Health Department report, which for 15 months had been issued daily, had not been issued over the holiday weekend, but also that from this point, it would be a weekly report.

With that, Florida became the first of the most populous states that doesn’t provide daily information on the state of the pandemic. Barely half of Floridians are vaccinated, the more toxic variants are on the rise, but Governor DeSantis has moved on.

Florida is transitioning into the next phase of the COVID-19 response.

Weesam Khoury, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health

Non-residents no longer count

In another decision intended to understate the severity of the pandemic, Florida stopped counting snowbirds and other non-residents in its statistics. From the final daily report to the first weekly report — overnight— the numbers of COVID cases and deaths plummeted.

… nearly 40,500 less — had contracted COVID-19. The number of deaths dropped by 732.

Jane Musgrave, The Palm Beach Post, June 4, 2021

Failure to report impedes ability to respond

If states decide to roll back their COVID-19 dashboards, then the nation’s ability to respond and react quickly to the continuing pandemic will be seriously impeded.

Beth Blauer, executive director of the Centers for Civic Impact at Johns Hopkins University. Quoted by Jane Musgrave, The Palm Beach Post, June 9, 2021

Out of sight, out of mind

The majority of Floridians are not vaccinated and the ferocious delta variant on the rise, but we notice fewer masks every day. Guess it’s over, or they’d tell us, right?

The outbreak is not extinguished. Where we are now, it’s smoldering.

Infection disease specialist Dr. Aileen Marty, Florida International University, quoted by Jane Musgrave, The Palm Beach Post, June 9, 2021
COVID-19 Op-ed Cartoon by Kevin Necessary, Cincinnati Enquirer
COVID-19 Op-ed Cartoon by Kevin Necessary, Cincinnati Enquirer

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