Trump has continued to fail the American people. He is not a genius. He is not a tactician. He is an actor who is completely blowing his roles right now, and while he does incite controversy to his benefit, it can backfire. The COVID-19 response is an example of this, where a lot of people are angry at his administration for seeming to try to force a “reopening” without proper safety precautions as well as show a lack of care for the safety of others.
According to Florida Today by way of MSN News, another new controversy seems to have opened where a Florida scientist claims she was fired for refusing to manipulate COVID-19 data to show fewer infections in order to justify a re-opening.
The scientist who created Florida’s COVID-19 data portal wasn’t just removed from her position on May 5, she was fired on Monday by the Department of Health, she said, for refusing to manipulate data.
Rebekah Jones said in an email to FLORIDA TODAY that she single-handedly created two applications in two languages, four dashboards, six unique maps with layers of data functionality for 32 variables covering a half a million lines of data. Her objective was to create a way for Floridians and researchers to see what the COVID-19 situation was in real time.
Then, she was dismissed.
“I worked on it alone, sixteen hours a day for two months, most of which I was never paid for, and now that this has happened I’ll probably never get paid for,” she wrote in an email, confirming that she had not just been reassigned on May 5, but fired from her job as Geographic Information Systems manager for the Florida Department of Health.
After FLORIDA TODAY first reported Jones’ removal from her position in charge of the Florida COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard she created, she confirmed, as reported by CBS-12 in West Palm Beach that she was fired because she was ordered to censor some data, but refused to “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.”
She provided no further details.
In an email last Friday to researchers and other data users, Jones warned that with her removal changes were likely coming to the accessibility and transparency of the dashboard data.
“They are making a lot of changes. I would advise being diligent in your respective uses of this data,” she wrote.
Researchers who saw the email reacted with shock and dismay, suggesting it could be evidence that the Gov. Ron De Santis’ government was censoring information to support the case for re-opening Florida.
Lucky Tran a Biologist and public health communicator at Columbia University on Twitter reacted to the news in a series of tweets. “When politicians censor scientists and manipulate the numbers, the rest of us suffer,” he wrote.
Governor Ron DeSantis’ spokeswoman, Helen Aguirre Ferré, issued a statement to the Miami Herald, saying: “The Florida COVID-19 Dashboard was created by the Geographic Information System (GIS) team in the Division of Disease Control and Health Protection at the Florida Department of Health. Although Rebekah Jones is no longer involved, the GIS team continues to manage and update the Dashboard providing accurate and important information that is publicly accessible.”
But emails from Jones through April showed that Jones was the one responding to feedback from researchers in a bid to improve and update her product. Jones told FLORIDA TODAY that she alone was responsible for “every line of code.” (source)
Now in fairness to Trump, he is not mentioned by name in this article.
But Florida is now Trump’s new “home state”.
Florida is also a key state that he has to win.
Trump also has been advertising since Easter that he wants to “reopen” the country and has not been able to because every time a reopening is forced, more infections begin to spread.
So can we say that Trump is “directly” involved in this? We have no proof of it. However, a “reopening” in Florida would theoretically benefit his campaign at a time when the only person he has a hope of beating is the demented Joe Biden, and even that may not be assured, because he has made people so upset with his utter failures as a president.
This virus is dangerous enough. It does not need to be politicized, especially since now is a time when people need the truth about it more than ever.