Ron DeSantis Getting Sued Over COVID-19 Deaths Transparency Scandal

Joe Duncan

Will DeSantis be successfully sued in Florida courts?

It all started when the Miami Herald ran a story that explained a change in how the DeSantis administration tallies the COVID-19 deaths here in Florida. Is it a scandal with any facts behind it? Or is it just more manufactured drama in an attempt to smear the Governor?

It all hinges on when a COVID-19 death is added to the state’s total. When people die from COVID-19, it may take days or even weeks before tests can be done, and the case is a confirmed COVID-19 death.

In some states, COVID deaths are logged into the system for the day they happen. In other states, COVID deaths are logged for the day they’re confirmed. For the whole pandemic, Florida has counted COVID-19 deaths on the day they’re confirmed, not the day they happened. So if someone died on March 20th, but the death wasn’t discovered to be a COVID-19 death until April 10th, the death would be logged for April 10th when it became official.

But that changed on August 10th, when the DeSantis administration flip-flopped on the way it tallied COVID deaths. We switched from counting COVID deaths on the day they were confirmed to the day they actually happened. If you look at the ramifications of this on a chart, the difference is enormous.
Ari Melber

And now, the DeSantis administration is being sued by Florida State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith. The reason? A lack of transparency. The lawsuit isn’t about the changes made. The lawsuit is about the denial of public records requests that would offer the public transparency in terms of COVID-19 death data.

After all, the CDC themselves were the ones who initiated the change to how we log our COVID deaths. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis merely complied with the CDC’s recommendations. The Miami Herald, the paper that initially broke the story that scandalized the administration in recent weeks, had previously reported themselves that the CDC changed their recommendations and asked that states comply with the new method of tallying deaths.

As they reported on August 19th:

On Aug. 10, the CDC changed the way it reported new cases and deaths in Florida. Cases and deaths used to be logged as total new cases reported on a single day. Now, Florida is reporting cases by the “case date,” according to the CDC rather than the date the case was logged into the system. The result of this change is a lag in cases by date and a significant number of cases backfilling over time.

The paper also promised to continue reporting deaths the old way that we’d done throughout the pandemic:

The Herald will continue to report numbers based on the difference in total cases from one day to the next, as this is consistent with the way data have been presented in daily stories since the beginning of the pandemic.

So, what they’re really pointing out is that the State and the CDC, and the Miami Herald, are keeping different tabs. Per the Miami Herald.

But as WESH reported, that’s not what the lawsuit is about. It’s about the fact that Florida, under the DeSantis administration, shut down the COVID-19 dashboard:

The lawsuit hinges on previously public COVID-19 data. The state’s dashboard used to be updated daily but was shut down and replaced with weekly reports which are not as detailed as previous reports.

Guillermo Smith, who is filing the lawsuit, said he spoke to officials in Orlando who claimed they wanted better access to the state’s COVID-19 information:

I was talking to members of the Orange County Public School Board and they were frustrated that they could not get basic COVID-19 information, data on case counts, hospitalizations, particularly as they affect children in our area.

Basically, it appears that this will all be easily tossed out in court as the State of Florida and the DeSantis administration can basically say they were following the newly implemented CDC protocols. The downside is their total inability to explain why they haven’t heeded to other CDC protocols in the past.

There’s a sort of selective choosing that’s obvious. Adhere to the CDC suggestions when it makes me look good politically, refuse to adhere to them when it makes me look bad politically. Everything about the DeSantis administration’s response to the COVID pandemic this year seems to have been funneled through a lens of politics rather than public safety and public health.

And did I mention that the judge in the case is the same judge who recently shot down DeSantis’ mask mandate ban in court in Leon County? Well, it’s the same judge. Let’s see if he’s more sympathetic to the DeSantis administration this time around.

What do you think? Do you think this is a pointless lawsuit? Or do you believe DeSantis should be held accountable for the lack of transparency?

This is original content from NewsBreak’s Creator Program. Join today to publish and share your own content.

Comments / 158

Published by

Keeping Florida informed with the latest. Life isn’t a series of many moments, but one moment that is always changing. Catch me on:

Orlando, FL

More from Joe Duncan

Comments / 0