While the Coronavirus is forcing the country to shut down several states, Florida and Georgia are now scrutinized for their role in sharing accurate and transparent reports on COVID-19 cases.
As reported earlier, in Florida, a woman official, Rebekah Jones, who was behind the state's "dashboard," a web page showcasing the data related to Coronavirus, claimed that she was removed from the project but later the state government portrayed the story differently in the official statement.
Coming to Georgia, people started questioning data tracking of COVID-19 cases after an inaccurate chart was posted on the Department of Public Health's website with the dates out of order and then officials removed it quickly.
However, it should be noted that these two states are among the first to announce the reopening of businesses and public places. But many people hinted that these issues could have appeared as the states wanted to show fewer Coronavirus cases.
Woman Employee Fired in Florida
On Friday, May 15, fired employee Jones reached out to researchers and people who had signed up to receive updates from the data portal to reveal that she was removed from her post at the Florida Department of Health, reported Florida Today.
But as per the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the email from Jones as well as what she said had been "misrepresented," and that the situation was "a non-issue."
On Tuesday, May 19, the Florida Department of Health said in an official statement that Jones had "exhibited a repeated course of insubordination" during her tenure there, making unilateral decisions to modify the Coronavirus dashboard without input or approval from the epidemiological team or her supervisors.
"The blatant disrespect for the professionals who were working around the clock to provide the important information for the COVID-19 website was harmful to the team," the department said and also added that Jones has been asked to resign by 5 pm Thursday, or she will be "terminated."
Inaccurate Georgia Coronavirus chart
As per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a bar chart on the Department of Public Health's website showed the number of COVID-19 cases in the counties, and most infections had dropped every single day for the prior two weeks. The graph also revealed a downward trajectory, but neither it had dates in chronological order, nor the graph keeps the counties in the same position each day, which triggered confusion among people.
But later, it was reported that the graph has been taken down from the official website which also reported 2,400 more confirmed cases than tests that were performed on one day last week. As per the report, a spokesperson said that the chart showed inaccurate details due to an error in how they sorted data.
In this matter, state Rep. Scott Holcomb said, "I don't know how anyone can defend this graph as not being misleading, I really don't." A spokeswoman for Governor Brian Kemp, Candice Broce, tweeted on May 11 that "the graph was supposed to be helpful but was met with such intense scorn that I, for one, will never encourage DPH to use anything but chronological order on the x-axis moving forward."
Later, on the same day, Broce wrote on Twitter that "the x-axis was set up that way to show descending values to more easily demonstrate peak values and counties on those dates. Our mission failed. We apologize. It is fixed."